New report: If you’re happy and you know it you’re self-employed



IPSE has welcomed a report from the CRSE (Centre for Research on Self-Employment) showing that on average self-employed people have higher levels of life satisfaction and wellbeing than employees. The report was released to coincide with National Freelancers Day, which this year is focusing on the wellbeing of the self-employed.   

The report found that wellbeing was higher among self-employed people by using subjective assessments of different aspects of their lives. This is the first time a major report of its kind has taken a holistic view of wellbeing – looking at jobs, health, family life and leisure – to build an overall picture of life satisfaction, rather than just using a narrow measure of economic success.

The report also focused on the need for policymakers to understand and tailor policies to the full diversity of self-employment. Building on this, it found a significant divergence in the life satisfaction levels of different self-employed groups. It also made a number of targeted recommendations to improve wellbeing and life satisfaction in certain self-employed groups.

These included:

  • Ensure better and faster access to mentoring when starting out and during business crisis periods to reduce stress and improve confidence in crucial times. This can be done by embedding mentoring in job centres.
  • Increase confidence by improving access to skills-development resources tailored to the self-employed. The Treasury could also make skills development more cost-effective by extending tax allowances to cover new skills and by granting self-employed people training vouchers.
  • Create more co-working spaces to combat the sense of isolation the self-employed often experience, allowing them to work together and also share insurances, childcare and other business-related services. This is something that can be achieved by Government, co-operatives and professional organisations working together to incentivise the creation of more spaces.
  • Abolish the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) or improve its extremely low uptake by offering accompanying training and mentoring – particularly confidence-building measures for people who are self-employed because of a lack of other employment opportunities.

Chris Bryce, Chief Executive of IPSE, commented: “This timely report shows why we at IPSE are working day-in, day-out to support self-employment and open it up to more people. Being your own boss, picking your own projects and choosing how and when you work can clearly improve wellbeing for millions of people across the UK.

“As this report shows though, it’s not a completely even picture. There are still some areas of self-employment where policymakers and business leaders need to do more to improve wellbeing. That’s what this year’s National Freelancers Day is all about, and we hope policymakers will take note of both the day and the recommendations in this excellent report to start making self-employment work for everyone.”  


Martin Binder, Professor of Economics at Bard College Berlin and the report’s author, commented: “Looking only at income or job creation when it comes to the self-employed experience is too narrow and can be misleading. Putting the overall life satisfaction of the self-employed centre stage gives us a much more comprehensive picture of how they are doing – beyond just their income. What, after all, is the point in encouraging more self-employment if people just end up more anxious, stressed-out and miserable?”

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