The Phaserl


Black Market or Bust: The Stark Choice Facing Many of Spain’s Self-Employed

by Don Quijones, Testosterone

Every day scores of self-employed workers in Spain fall off the economic radar. In February of this year, three self-employment associations — ATA, UPTA and Uatae — sounded the alarm, warning that the number of self-employed and freelance workers paying social security contributions had fallen below three million for the first time since March 2006.

More worrisome still, 2013 promises to be a far worse year than 2012, given that the first two months of this year alone saw half as many self-employed drop off the social security register as in the whole of 2012.

Not that the government seems to care. Indeed, in the cruelest of ironies, the worst culprit when it comes to late payment of invoices — one of the main forces pushing the self-employed and small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) over the brink of the financial abyss – is the country’s local and regional government institutions. According to recent figures, the regional governments’ outstanding debt to self-employed workers is close to five billion euros; and in some regions, such as Catalonia and Valencia, cash-strapped workers have to wait an average of almost six months before getting paid.

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