In 2014, 4.6 million people were classed as self-employed. That is 15% of the entire UK work force. Economists have cited this rise as one of the reasons why the UK economy has to a certain extent recovered. There are also another 356,000 employees who have a second job in which they were self-employed. This is the highest level ever recorded since the government started collecting data, forty years ago.

Self-Employment

Self-employment is transcending the gender gap in the labour force. The number of women in self-employment is now increasing at a staggering rate, a faster rate than men. There has been a suggestion that there needs to be a greater focus on female specific business services. These services can act as a catalyst for self-employed women to take the next step into becoming employers. Interestingly, the number of over 65s who are self-employed has more that doubled in the past five years to reach nearly half a million. More can also be done in terms of guidance for the older demographic. There has been a rise in “silver start-ups”, with one in ten people approaching retirement, considering drawing money from their pension to start a small business. It will be interesting to see whether the new Conservative government will stimulate growth in this particular area.

What can be done to help Self-Employed workers?

There needs to be greater support for women, in the first instance. This group is growing swiftly and some additional funding and support will help provide this demographic with a boost. Furthermore, a re-evaluation of the way women are treated when it comes to policies such as availability of maternity benefits. As well as this, there should be further protection in terms of late payment and an anonymous reporting system so trading contracts aren’t put in jeopardy.

The youth

The biggest growth in self-employment has been amongst young people, and a greater focus needs to be placed on this area. This needs to begin during education, it is all good and well having start-up loan schemes, but many young people don’t know they exist. Also, co-working spaces are becoming increasingly popular among those who are self-employed. Incentivized schemes for local councils will make them much more likely to open up empty property for such schemes.

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