Self-employment numbers reach almost 5m » SMEInsider

Self-employment numbers reach almost 5m

The latest employment figures show an increase in the number of self employed people. The number has risen by 129,000 compared to this quarter a year earlier, to 4.75 million (15% of all people in work).

Mike Cherry, National Chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses, said the news should be a spur for reform. “The huge rise in self-employment since the recession must be met with action. There is much to do to improve our social security and financial systems in particular.
,” he said.

“Social security and our tax system have not kept up with the changing nature of 21st century work. It is urgent that Government gets to grips with the new reality of more people striking out on their own and working for themselves. In maternity, low pay, pensions and the housing market, the self-employed lose out from systems designed for a different age.

“The Government’s Taylor review is a crucial opportunity to help the wellbeing of the self-employed and the companies they start. Maternity support must be raised to a level closer with the employed and the design of Universal Credit changed so it’s no longer a threat to business start-ups. The financial system must ensure the self-employed have the same chance to buy their own homes and save for retirement as those in traditional employment.”


‘Boosting productivity is essential’

The CBI, meanwhile, called the figures ‘mixed’. Rachel Smith, CBI Principal Labour Market Adviser, said: “We see a mixed picture from the labour market over the last three months, with employment levels remaining more or less the same and unemployment seeing a slight drop.

“Although wage growth has gone up somewhat, so has inflation, hitting workers’ pay packets in real terms. Boosting productivity in every region and nation of the UK will be essential if firms are to further raise wages sustainably for their employees.”