The UK’s self-employed population is projected to swell to five million in the next four years, according to a study conducted by thinktank RSA. The current number of freelancers and contractors in Britain stands at 4.4 million and, as recent news reports have confirmed, that number is growing fast. According to RSA’s study, the number of one-person businesses will continue to grow and will outstrip those employed in the public sector by 2018, if the Government’s cuts continue at the same rate.
RSA’s senior researcher Benedict Dellot highlighted the lack of support currently in place for this fast-growing business group:
“Micro-businesses are the new political force to be reckoned with, but the Government has yet to win their favour. Business support remains confusing and superficial, and we have an archaic welfare system that does little to recognise or reward those who want to work for themselves.”
Despite self-employment cancelling out a fall in permanent staff nationally in the quarter to January 2014, Chancellor George Osborne all-but ignored micro-businesses in the 2014 Budget, instead focusing on savings reform.
Survey data from the same study showed that some 65% of micro-businesses believe the Government is not doing enough to support them – similar results to our own study, in which 34% of freelancers demanded formal recognition as a unique business group, and 31% demanded greater support for home-based businesses.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills commented on the study:
“The Government is committed to making the UK the best place to start and grow a business, and is providing targeted support to businesses at all stages to ensure they succeed.”
Photo by Bert Kauffman