Self-employment figures have topped 4.5 million for the first time in recorded history, according to the ONS Labour Market Statistics released yesterday.
The news has prompted PCG, the membership organisation for independent professionals, to call on the government to create a ‘level playing field for those in business on their own account’.
Simon McVicker, Director of Policy & Public Affairs at PCG said:
“Every time the ONS releases new figures on the labour market, we see that the number of people in business on their own account has gone up significantly. I’d like to know how large that figure has to get before Britain’s self-employed people are given the backing they deserve.”
Research by think-tank the Resolution Foundation found that 72% of those surveyed prefer self-employment over being an employee. Mr McVicker believes more has to be done to nurture this demographic and give the support needed for more to make the switch to self-employment.
“The Government should act to support the self-employed in tackling late payments –a huge issue for small businesses who cannot rely on large reserves of capital to get by when clients fail to pay on time. The Prompt Payment Code needs to include tough sanctions for offenders and sign up should be compulsory for big businesses.
“With the continuing rise in self-employment, it’s also crucial that organisations like banks make provision for those not in permanent employment when it comes to things like mortgages and access to credit.
“We are now in the midst of a revolution in how we approach the concept of work in this country. If we want to keep up, we need to make structural changes to the institutions supporting our businesses.
“From HMRC and Government through to our banks and business support services, we all need to adapt or we risk clipping the wings of the UK’s smallest businesses.”
A report by Professor Andrew Burke found that UK businesses use freelancers as a means of growth, while keeping risks down. The study also found freelancers create jobs by helping new projects succeed and increasing innovation levels.
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