April 17, 2014
A poll of Britain's newly self-employed workers has found that 72% say they prefer their current situation to being an employee.
The poll comes at a time when some commentators, including the TUC, have suggested that self-employment has become an economic necessity rather than a choice for many.
The survey finds that a "significant minority" (28%) of those who started out as self-employed in the past five years would prefer to be employees. That's higher than the 11% who said the same among those that have been self-employed for more than five years.
ONS data shows that of the 4.5 million self-employed people in the UK today, nearly 1.7 million have become so since 2009. This survey suggests that, of that newer group, approximately 450,000 people would prefer to be an employee.
Of those who became self-employed in the past five years, more than one in four (27%) gave lack of work alternatives as the reason, compared to 10% of those who took the decision before 2009.
Conor D'Arcy, researcher at the Resolution Foundation, said: "The UK has had impressive employment growth over recent months, a sizable proportion of which has been driven by an explosion in self-employment. That's why it's vital we know more about these new self-employed workers. Some will see themselves as entrepreneurs and revel in setting up their own business – the clear majority still prefer to be their own boss – but a considerable minority appear to be there unwillingly or at least would prefer the security of being an employee given the choice."
The survey also highlights concerns about the challenges facing the newly self-employed in accessing credit. It finds that 24% of those who have been self-employed for less than five years say they have been prevented from obtaining personal credit or loans due to being self-employed, compared to 11% of those who have been self-employed for five years or more.