Self-employment review comes up with 10 recommendations

A new self-employment review has concluded that more should be done to help entrepreneurs and self-employed business owners in the UK.

There are currently a record 4.6 million people identifying as self-employed in the UK, representing 15% of the workforce. The independent review, led by entrepreneur and founder of the Cambridge Satchel Company, Julie Deane, said that choosing to be part of this growing sector should not mean that the self-employed should be disadvantaged in the support they receive from the Government.

The report found that the majority of self-employed people had made a conscious choice to be so and had no plans to return to working for someone else. There are risks in self-employment however. Small businesses often find it difficult to access finance for example and new businesses of up to five years old suffer a 50% rejection rate when it came to securing business loans from banks.

A record 608,100 new businesses were recorded by Companies House in 2015 but many businesses also fail. The most recent figures released by the Office for National Statistics showed that there were 246,000 business deaths in 2014, representing nearly 10% of all businesses that were active that year. Businesses facing serious difficulty should seek business rescue advice and other insolvency services at the first opportunities as solutions may be available that can improve their situation.

Some of the recommendations from the self-employment review include educating young people to prepare for the role that self-employment might play in their working lives. Advice and support should be made as accessible as is possible, and the self-employed should be given more flexible finance options in areas including mortgages, pensions and insurance.

The report also said there was a clear desire amongst the self-employed for equal treatment in areas such as maternity pay and that a single legal definition of self-employment for tax and employment law purposes was desirable. Taxation for the self-employed was outside the remit of the review but Ms Deane said the issue came up so frequently during the report’s compilation that she recommended the Government should revisit the issue in more detail.

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