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Six out of ten freelancers have raised prices in the face of inflation | Economy

Several people shop at a fruit and vegetable stall in the Central Market of Valencia.
Several people shop at a fruit and vegetable stall in the Central Market of Valencia.Robert Solsona (Europa Press)

The rise in energy prices as a result of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia has caused six out of ten self-employed to raise their rates to deal with inflation, according to the first barometer of 2022 published by the National Federation on Monday. of Associations of Self-Employed Workers (ATA). The figure, already high, could increase soon: two out of three self-employed workers who have not yet raised prices plan to do so if the current escalation continues.

For the bulk of the self-employed group, made up of 3,161,061 workers ―according to April data―, the increase in electricity prices has had the greatest impact on their businesses (70%), although what has most conditioned their activity has been the increase in the cost of raw materials (42.3%), followed by the rise in fuel prices (42%). Only 17% say that inflation has had little or no effect on their business. Questioned about the solutions adopted to deal with inflation, 57% acknowledge having passed on the increase in costs to prices, while 37.8% say they have kept them aside. However, two out of three, 62.3%, anticipate having to raise them if this rate of inflation continues.

The results of the ATA survey have been prepared from 1,246 surveys carried out on May 13 and 16, where the self-employed were asked about their situation during the first four months of the year. A period clearly marked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine that has led to an unprecedented rise in prices in Spain in the last three decades.

This blow, together with that of the pandemic during the last two years, has meant that six out of ten self-employed workers have not recovered what they have lost since the arrival of the coronavirus (66.5%); and that, within this group of those affected, 30.2% do not rule out having to close their business due to the difficulties they are experiencing. “These figures show that if the economy has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, it is understandable that the self-employed have not done so either”; Lorenzo Amor, president of ATA, has pointed out.

Pessimism

The last two years have not been easy for self-employment. When the sanitary restrictions due to the pandemic seemed like history, and the activity recovered again, the rise in prices has once again compromised the accounting of thousands of businesses. With the war in Ukraine still in force, and without the Government’s measures to contain prices having managed to substantially bend the upward curve, just over a million self-employed, 30.3%, are pessimistic about their activity , and even foresees that this may be lowered in the next six months. What extent? Two out of three believe that the drop will be 30% or greater.

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If the debacle of the self-employed in this time has not been capital, it is due, among other reasons, thanks to their ability to finance themselves both through the ICO or other public or private entities. However, only about one million self-employed people resorted to this route, since 38.3% decided not to do so because they were not willing to “take on more debt”, according to the ATA study.

A “worrying” fact for ATA is that only one in five self-employed plans to request the digital-kit ―a public aid program for SMEs, micro-enterprises and the self-employed aimed at improving and promoting digitization―, compared to 55.2% who do not consider it, and another 24.8% who do not even know the existence of this aid. “We all have to make an effort if we want to fulfill this project”, assured Amor.

no progress

Questioned about the situation of the negotiation of the contribution system for real income for the self-employed who decide the Ministry of Social Security, the social agents and the organizations that represent them, the president of ATA has limited himself to saying that the only concrete point in which progress was made during the last meeting was to establish a proposal that would cover the next three years, and he criticized the fact that the department headed by José Luis Escrivá posted a legal text on its website ―Royal Decree Project by which The General Regulations on business registration and affiliation, registrations, cancellations and changes in data of workers in Social Security are modified―, “on a law that is being negotiated, and that has not even entered Parliament”.

The main novelty of this text with respect to previous approaches is that the self-employed can change their contribution base, that is, decide whether to raise or lower their quota up to six times a year, or what is the same, every two months. Currently, it is only possible to do this four times during a single exercise.

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