Why Government Must Get Serious About Protecting the Living Standards of the Self-employed

With the self-employed now making up 15 percent of the workforce, a new report out today adds to growing calls for a tax and welfare overhaul to protect the living standards of the UK’s booming self-employed workforce.

Independent think tank, the RSA, is calling on the main political parties to ‘get serious’ about protecting the living standards of the self-employed, with further changes to National Insurance, Universal Credit, pensions and maternity pay being key priorities.

The report expresses concern that policy efforts to support entrepreneurship have so far centred on dealing with business issues such as red-tape and access to finance, with the personal circumstances of the self-employed largely ignored. Just 11 percent of those surveyed in an RSA/Populus poll, for example, said that the welfare system is fair to people who work for themselves.

Funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the far-reaching study examines the effect of the recession on self-employed workers, a community that has grown by 39 percent since 2000. The report found that the full-time self-employed now earn close to a quarter less than their counterparts in a typical job – a shortfall of £167 a week. The result is that 36 percent of self-employed workers are in the bottom 20 percent of all earners.

Prowess was one of a group of organisations that contributed to the report in a series of round table discussions. The main findings  are summarised below. You can download the full report here.




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