May 19, 2023
IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed) has welcomed new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing year-on-year growth in self-employment. There are 154,000 more self-employed than this time last year. In total, there are now 4.4 million operating in the UK. The data also revealed a significant rise in the number of women choosing to work for themselves, with an additional 93,000 self-employed women compared to the same time last year.
Since the onset of the pandemic, the self-employed population fell from a record high of more than 5 million, to 4.2 million by mid-2021. Despite small flickers of growth since then, a consistent trend has never materialised, according to IPSE.
Andy Chamberlain, Director of Policy at IPSE, said: “Today’s figures mark a return to year-on-year self-employment growth for the third consecutive quarter. This is a very positive sign that the economy is perhaps starting to recover from the damage done by the pandemic, which put more than 700,000 freelancers and sole traders out of business. A bigger self-employed population is good news for businesses looking to recruit flexible talent on an interim basis, at a time when economic conditions might make a permanent hire less attractive.
“We know that people choose self-employment for overwhelmingly positive reasons, whether it’s to follow a passion, to work more flexibly, or to be your own boss. That more and more people are choosing to strike out on their own once again is something to applaud. As was the case throughout the 2010s, much of the past year’s growth came from greater inflows of women into self-employment – yet another sign that the sector is returning to pre-pandemic trends.
“Instead of hitting these people with an increasing burden of tax rises and red tape, government should be delivering supportive public policies towards this growing cohort of the workforce, particularly by simplifying the tax system and boosting the number of freelancers saving adequately for later life.”