February 19, 2016
Business groups and the Government have welcomed the findings of a review of self-employment in the UK that says more must be done to support those that work for themselves.
The independent review has been led by entrepreneur Julie Deane, founder of the Cambridge Satchel Company. It is calling on the Government to give self-employed people the same rights as employees on issues such as parental leave, as well as asking for better education about self-employment and tax for young people.
There are currently 4.6 million self-employed people in the UK, 15% of the UK workforce. The report concludes that self-employment "should not mean that people are disadvantaged".
It said: "It is important that with the increased growth in self-employment, and the subsequent benefits that this group brings to the economy, that there are systems in place to support the self-employed in the same way as the employed."
Dr Adam Marshall, executive director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: "Julie Deane is right: it's time to sweep away the barriers that stop people from working for themselves. Her calls for the education system to focus more on the basics of enterprise, and for the self-employed to receive parental leave pay on the same basis as company workers, resonate with what we hear in business communities across the country."
Mike Cherry, policy director for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: "We encourage ministers to read this report carefully and take on board its recommendations. Particularly important are the recommendations to bring Maternity Allowance into line with Statutory Maternity pay and those relating to access to more flexible finance solutions. For too long the self-employed have been frozen out of getting fair access to mortgages, insurance products and pensions."
Commenting on the report, prime minister David Cameron said: "Up and down the country there are millions of hard-working self-employed people and I want to make sure they get all the support and security they need to achieve their ambitions."
However, Jason Kitcat, micro-business ambassador at Crunch Accounting, called on the Government to do more: "We welcome this report and support its recommendations … however, it doesn't tackle the bigger question of whether our tax and benefits system designed for a previous era is fit for purpose when so many people are making the positive choice to work for themselves. We must build on this report to make the case for a more radical rethink of how Government supports people in the new world of work."