New report from CRSE shows the true diversity of the self-employed sector

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A report released today by the Centre for Research on Self-Employment (CRSE) – in conjunction with the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) – has shown the real diversity of self-employment in the UK, dividing independent professionals into nine distinct ‘segments’.

The segments, defined by variations in earnings, independence and security, range from drivers and cleaners in segment one all the way to legal and business professionals in segment nine. And by segmenting the UK’s diverse self-employed population, the report uncovered some significant points.  

Some of the key findings included:

  • Eight of the nine segments of the solo self-employed – those who do not employ anyone – are as satisfied, or more satisfied, than employees doing similar jobs
  • Over half (53%) of the solo self-employed workforce exhibit high levels of independence and security 
  • Of the total solo self-employed workforce, 15 per cent exhibit little autonomy or control over their work, and more should be done to clarify their employment status
  • One in five solo self-employed workers amounting to over 825,000 people – have been classified as insecure. They are more likely to be found among the UK’s cleaners, drivers, carers and labourers, as well as those in artistic occupations. These people tend to be less qualified and are much less likely to have financial security such as a private pension.

Suneeta Johal, Head of Research at IPSE and Director of the Centre for Research on Self Employment said: “Different segments of the self-employed need bespoke support to improve their position. For example, those who lack independence and are financially insecure need urgent support and incentives to save for their future.

“All segments of self-employment could really benefit from better access to training and skills development opportunities. Not only does skills development improve pay prospects, it also allows the less autonomous self-employed to move into more independent roles or build themselves a broader base of clients.”

Simon McVicker, IPSE’s Director of Policy commented: “This report is a hugely significant step on the road towards securing a fair and decent deal for the UK’s self-employed. By properly segmenting and showing the true diversity of the self-employed sector, CRSE and IES have dispelled the myth of uniformity once and for all.

“Now, whenever policymakers address the self-employed sector, there is no excuse for them to adopt heavy-handed, one-size-fits-all approaches. From now on, they must take a properly segmented approach and give each segment of this vital and burgeoning sector the specific support it needs.”

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Tristan Grove

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