Brits 'stampede' away from self-employment

Brits ‘stampede’ away from self-employment with only a THIRD saying they want to continue their work status because of impact of Covid crisis on their pay

  • A third of self-employed workers want to continue with their work status
  • Half of those surveyed lost between 60 per cent  and 100 per cent of income
  • Three out of four had been unable to access support such as Universal Credit

Only a third of self-employed and freelance workers want to continue with their work status as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact their pay, new research has shown.

An inquiry by independent experts, politicians, union and industry leaders warned of a ‘stampede’ away from self-employment amid increasing economic gloom.

Half of the 2,500 self-employed workers surveyed said they had lost between 60 per cent and 100 per cent of their household income this year and two out of three were less likely or unsure if they wanted to continue to be self-employed.

Three out of four had been unable to access support such as Universal Credit.  

Half of the 2,500 self-employed workers said they had lost between 60 per cent and 100 per cent of their household income this year and only a third of wanted to continue with their work status. (Stock image)

Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy, who commissioned the inquiry, said: ‘The news that barely a third of all self-employed and freelance workers are confident they want to continue to work in this way should be a massive wake-up call to the Government.

‘These workers have powered our economy in recent years and this flexible workforce were lauded by ministers as key to our prosperity, but the way they have been treated in this pandemic is disgraceful and will have consequences for our ability to recover in 2021 in beyond.

‘In the long term we need fundamental changes in how these workers are treated. 

‘For now, the Government has to listen immediately to this inquiry and introduce a scheme to halt the stampede away from self-employment that that their policies are causing.’

Community general secretary Roy Rickhuss said: ‘Our findings must serve as a catalyst to ensuring that those self-employed workers who have so far missed out on Government support, urgently receive it.

‘Over 60 per cent of self-employed workers feel less likely or unsure they want to be self-employed or freelance in the future. 

‘This would be nothing short of a disaster for our economy, prospects of an economic recovery and the livelihoods of thousands of working people and their families.’

Martin McTague of the Federation of Small Businesses said: ‘The self-employed community was fundamental to our recovery from the last recession, but the Government often struggles to understand and appreciate the contribution of this vital part of the economy.

Union leaders warned of a ‘stampede’ away from self-employment amid the coronavirus crisis. (Stock image) 

‘If we want it to drive a similar bounce back over the months ahead, we need to give sole traders the help and support they desperately need, and encourage more of those who are out of work to strike out on their own.’

The final report will be published in February, but it warns that urgent action is needed to avert a stampede away from self-employment.

It comes more than a month after Rishi Sunak announced that self-employed people would be able to claim 80 per cent of their average trading profits during November.

Speaking at the time Mr Sunak said: ‘So far we’ve provided £13.7 billion of support to self-employed people through the crisis – and I’ve always said we will continue to do everything we can to support livelihoods across the UK.

‘The rapidly changing health picture has meant we have had to act in order to protect people’s lives and I know this is incredibly worrying time for the self-employed. 

‘That is why we have increased the generosity of the third grant, ensuring those who cannot trade or are facing decreased demand are able to get through the months ahead.’   

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