Lack of self-employment growth 'highlights need for better support'

Lack of self-employment growth ‘highlights need for better support’

Posted 23rd May 2018 in News For Workers

Industry bodies representing the self-employed have called for better government support for the sector in order to stimulate growth and productivity.

The latest UK labour market figures from the Office for National Statistics have revealed that the number of self-employed people in the UK came to 4.75 million in the first quarter of 2018 – broadly stable compared to the figure from last year, albeit down by 38,000.

It means that the self-employed now account for around 14.7 per cent of the 27.43 million people in work, with the number of individuals working full-time hours on a self-employed basis falling by 3.7 per cent year over year, while the number of people undertaking part-time self-employed roles rose by 6.4 per cent.

This is reflective of the number of professionals taking on extra roles to supplement other work, or amassing a portfolio of part-time roles to offer greater flexibility. However, both the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) and the Freelancer & Contractor Services Association (FCSA) have argued that it also suggests the government needs to be doing more to support the self-employed.

A statement from the FCSA highlighted the importance of continuing to encourage the shift towards non-traditional employment that is currently taking place as skills requirements change, while IPSE underlined the vital role that the self-employed will play in helping the UK overcome the poor economic growth and productivity it is currently seeing.

Tom Purvis, IPSE’s economic policy advisor, said: “While the labour market seems to be in a strong position at the minute, the government must focus its efforts on turning this into better economic performance. In short, it must protect the self-employed and give them the support they need.

“Policies like lowering the VAT threshold or rolling out IR35 to the private sector would jeopardise the self-employed … and cause severe problems for a UK economy that only grew 0.1 per cent in Q1 2018.”

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