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IPSE response to May CBI speech: ‘Jobs miracle’? Get ready for ‘self-employed catastrophe’ unless government changes course

IPSE has responded to Theresa May’s comments at the CBI on the ‘jobs miracle’, warning that unless it changes course, it will soon experience a ‘self-employed catastrophe’.


Today, Theresa May gave the keynote speech at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) annual conference, promoting her Brexit deal and the opportunities for the continuation of what she described as the ‘jobs miracle that sound economic management has delivered since 2010’.  

Andy Chamberlain, IPSE’s Deputy Director of Policy, commented: “There are few things pressing more on the minds of the self-employed – and all business people across the UK – than the progress of the Brexit negotiations. So at the CBI conference today, it was welcome to see not only Mrs May’s determination to push through a good Brexit deal for the UK, but also her commitment to forging ‘a system that works for business’.

“Mrs May was also right to stress the significance of the ‘jobs miracle’ for the UK economy – and how important it is that it continues. What wasn’t mentioned, however, is the role of the self-employed in that miracle.

“It’s true that there are more women and people with disabilities in work now than ever before. But in both cases, the flexibility of self-employment played a major part in getting them into the workforce. Between 2008 and 2017, for example, the number of self-employed mothers in the UK almost doubled – because so many new parents took advantage of the flexibility of freelancing.

“The self-employed played an enormous part in Mrs May’s ‘jobs miracle’, but now they are mortally threatened by her government’s policies. Far from preparing the economy for a ‘brighter future’ after Brexit, the government’s most recent Budget set us on the path to a self-employed catastrophe.

“Extending the changes to IR35 self-employed tax rules to the private sector will do serious damage not only to the UK’s 4.8 million self-employed, but also to the businesses that use them and the wider economy.

“To truly pursue a brighter post-Brexit future and continue the jobs miracle, the government must reverse its disastrous plans and support, not scupper, the UK’s self-employed.”