UK's self-employed population still rising

21st January 2016 | News

The total number of self-employed professionals in the UK continues to soar year-on-year, with 98,000 more people working for themselves in the three months up to November 2015 than in the same period the previous year.

That’s according to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), which is said to indicate the rising number of people who are “realising the benefits of self-employment and opting to become their own boss”.

Lorence Nye, economic policy advisor, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE), said: “The self-employed are now a key part of the UK economy. Their flexibility provides us with a unique characteristic that has powered the UK through the financial crisis and may be the one thing that shelters the country from the potential global economic storm appearing on the horizon.

“We hope the Government will continue to implement tailored policies to help this essential sector flourish to allow for the UK to retain its competitive edge.”

The ONS data shows that 4.61 million self-employed professionals now work in the UK, with 5.35 million public sector workers resulting in the lowest overall total of public sector employment since the measurement began in 1999.

While there is still a gap of around 750,000 employees between the self-employed and public sector demographic, if the trend for self-employment continues each quarter at its current rate it’s very likely there will be more self-employed than public sector workers in the UK by the end of the decade.

Initially the rise in self-employment had been attributed to the recession of 2008/09, with plenty of workers opting to freelance whilst looking for their next permanent job. But the UK labour market is now highly buoyant, with vacancies being created in record numbers, indicating that most are deliberately choosing self-employment.

Image: Kate Hiscock