Almost 15 per cent of UK workforce now self-employed

28th February 2019 | News

Fresh data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the number of self-employed people in the UK rose by 63,000 to 4.84 million in the last quarter of 2018.

The nation’s strong labour market is being powered significantly by the self-employed sector, which now equates to almost 15% of the UK’s workforce – almost as much as the entire public sector.

Ryan Barnett, Economic Policy Adviser at The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), believes the UK government should acknowledge the ambition and innovation of those prepared to run their own business.

“It’s excellent to see the rise in self-employment revealed in the data,” said Barnett. “When the government celebrates the strength of the labour market, it must remember that a major part of that is down to the UK’s burgeoning self-employed sector.

“As of the end of 2018, there were 4.84 million self-employed people in the country.

“In a time of gloomy economic forecasts and poor GDP growth, the strength of our labour market and especially our self-employed sector is welcome good news.”

In order to support the growth of the UK’s self-employed sector, the IPSE insists that tackling the “scourge” of late payment would go a long way to giving bold and innovative individuals the confidence to take the plunge.

Jonathan Lima-Matthews, Senior Policy Advisor, IPSE, said: “The culture of late payment is the scourge of the UK’s smallest businesses, the self-employed. It is a serious problem across the UK.

“IPSE research has shown freelancers spend an average of 20 days a year chasing late payments, with 43% doing work they were not paid for at some point in their career.”

Mr Lima-Matthews confirmed that the IPSE heavily endorses calls from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) for the Scottish government to follow the UK government’s lead and sign up to the Prompt Payment Code.

“At IPSE, we wholeheartedly support the FSB’s calls for the Scottish government to ban late-paying businesses from public contracts,” added Lima-Matthews.

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