IPSE raises concerns about drop in self-employment

IPSE has responded to labour market statistics released today showing that the number of self-employed people has grown slightly compared to last month, but fallen from the same time last year.

ONS data released today shows that there are currently 4.78 million self-employed people in the UK. This is up from 4.77 million last month, but down from 4.8 million 12 months ago.

The number of employees in the economy, on the other hand, has continued to grow. There are now 344,000 more than 12 months ago.

Tom Purvis, IPSE’s Economic Policy Advisor, commented: “Although self-employment is up on last month, there has been a notable drop since last year: if this trend continues, the Government may need to look at this more closely. For one thing, if the Government is to hit its own targets for infrastructure and construction, it will need a strong self-employed workforce.

“With the Brexit negotiations still ongoing, it is essential the Government backs one of the UK’s biggest competitive advantages: its flexible labour market. A healthy, flourishing flexible labour market will boost both the private and the public sectors in the coming years, but the Government must do more to support it.

“At the Autumn Budget, the Chancellor announced the Government would be consulting on the extension of the changes to IR35 from the public to the private sector. This would be a complete disaster for both the self-employed and the UK economy, leading to lower productivity and delays to projects across the country.

“Instead of penalising the self-employed and further shrinking this vital sector of the economy, the Government should be looking at measures to support and boost self-employment in the UK. If it takes the right approach, we should see this decline in self-employment reversed.”

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