By Jonathan London on 20th July 2015

Number of UK self-employed people sees substantial decline

The government has been urged to do more to support self-employed people and arrest a recent decline in the number of people in the UK choosing to work for themselves.

Recent figures for July 2015 from the Office for National Statistics have revealed that the number of self-employed UK workers has fallen at its fastest rate for 17 years, dropping by 131,000 in the last 12 months.

Self-employment fell by 55,000 in the three months to May compared to the previous quarter, with this trend being the main reason why nationwide employment rates fell overall in July for the first time in two years.

Last June, self-employment reached an historic peak, with around 4.6 million people working this way. They comprised 15 percent of the total workforce, but the recent trend has brought this figure down to just under 4.47 million, or 14 per cent of all workers.

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) has reacted to the data with concern, saying it shows that David Cameron’s new Conservative government needs to act quickly to correct this negative momentum.

IPSE chief executive Chris Bryce said: “If the government is to reach its ambition of an extra two million people in the labour market by the end of the parliament, this group has a vital role to play.

“However, contrary to what is needed, the Summer Budget delivered a number of measures which have potential to restrict growth of the self-employed. We urge the government to rethink plans which will be detrimental to this important part of the labour market.”

Earlier this month, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills announced plans to launch a new review that will look for ways to provide better support for freelancers, contractors and the self-employed.

It will look at the reasons why people pursue opportunities in these fields, address the key challenges they face and suggest measures that would help to alleviate some of the difficulties, with findings from the review expected to be published next year.

Jonathan London Written by Jonathan London

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