Most newly self-employed say it's their choice

A new report says the vast majority of Britain’s newly self-employed have not been “forced” into such freelance careers, adding to evidence that workers ‘going it alone’ since the recession are simply choosing to.

Authored by the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (RSA), the report found that of over 1,000 micro-businesses, only one in four who started up in the financial crisis said that escaping unemployment was the key motivator.

A much more common answer from the businesses, all of whom had either no employees or just a handful, was they decided to work for themselves to achieve “greater freedom or make the most of a good idea.”

The report therefore disagrees with the TUC, which has suggested that a large number of the self-employed are ‘odd-jobbers,’ desperately grabbing onto any and all kinds of work they can lay their hands on.

In fact, the RSA’s analysis of data from the ONS’s Labour Force Survey shows that the biggest increase in self-employment since 2008, when the financial crisis began, has been in highly skilled professional occupations.

The analysis adds that the UK’s historic growth in self-employment cannot be explained as a ‘cyclical blip,’ as PCG has also suggested, partly because the number of micro-businesses has been increasing long before the recession started.

Indeed, the number of self-employed people in the UK is now growing at its fastest rate ever, and only nine per cent say they plan to stop working for themselves in the next three-to-five years, despite the fact that the economy has returned to growth.

Benedict Dellot, senior researcher at RSA, reflected: “T here are a substantial number who are forced into the position [self-employment], but there is little doubt that the vast majority enjoy being their own boss – and understandably so.

“However, many commentators have failed to recognise this, and seem to want to hark back to a golden age when being an employee in a large organisation was the norm. Not only is this futile, it also distracts us from the task of improving the living standards of the self-employed and ensuring their needs are no longer overlooked in government policy.”


30th May 2014

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