Government should accept that self employment is the new normal for many

self employmentThe Government should develop more policies that meet the needs of the growing numbers of self-employed in the UK and across Europe. That is the message of a new report from think tank The Institute for Public Policy Research which points out that while 40 percent of the rise in job levels since 2010 has been in self-employment, the Government should accept this is not a blip but a structural change in the way many people work and develop appropriate policies to meet their needs. The report argues that self-employment is already the new normal for some 4 million UK workers and the Government should take steps to ensure their pensions, training and earnings are in step with the rest of the workforce.

According to the report’s author Izzy Hatfield: “Self employment, while offering greater freedom and flexibility, can also present significant challenges. Self-employed workers often don’t have basic employment rights, and are subject to greater financial instability, particularly when starting out or when businesses are not performing well. They are also less likely to have paid into a private pension, and work can be irregular and insecure. Our data analysis suggests that the earnings of the self-employed across Europe are falling relative to employee earnings, while more and more workers are looking for more hours or another job.”

“Policymakers need to consider self-employment carefully in order to help support economic growth, as well as the living standards of this group,” she claims. “This is particularly relevant in the UK, where self-employment has become a greater part of the labour market since the recession. Self-employment can present a route to the labour market for disadvantaged groups, but it should be presented as part of a range of options for those looking for work, rather than a catch-all solution.”