Supporting the self-employed: Assessing the concerns and support needs of the sector

  • Research
  • After the experience of the pandemic, over half of freelancers (52%) do not feel supported by the government.
  • Two out of three freelancers (58%) want government to extend Statutory Sick Pay to them.
  • Half of freelancers (49%) believe that they – like employees – should be entitled to pension contributions.
  • More than two out of five freelancers (44%) believe they should have access to maternity and paternity pay.
  • Two out of five freelancers (40%) now believe they should be guaranteed a minimum wage.

The experience of the pandemic and the gaps in support have led to more than half of freelancers (52%) not feeling supported by the government. This includes one in three (31%) of all freelancers who say they do not feel supported at all by the UK government.

The figure was even higher – 67 per cent – among limited company directors, who were not able to access the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

In the past, many freelancers have been uninterested in employee benefits like sick pay and pension plans, seeing the absence of these as a necessary trade-off for the freedom and flexibility of freelancing. After the financial damage of the pandemic, however, freelancers’ attitudes have shifted sharply. Two out of three freelancers (58%) now believe they should be entitled to sick pay (up from less than half before the pandemic).

Almost half of freelancers (49%) now also believe they – like employees – should be entitled to pension contributions (up from a third). More than two out of five (44%) also now believe they should be entitled to maternity and paternity pay (up from just 23%). At present freelance mothers can only claim maternity allowance and freelance fathers have no support. Two out of five freelancers (40%) now also believe they should have a guaranteed minimum wage (up from 32%).

These striking increases also reflect freelancers’ biggest concerns at present. Two thirds of freelancers (58%) are worried about the irregularity of their income. Two out of five (40%) were also concerned about not being financially prepared for retirement, while another 40 per cent worried about the blurring of the boundaries between home and work life. Almost two out of five (37%) were also worried about not being able to find new contracts and work.

Overall, it is clear freelancers are in a financially unstable and anxious position after the pandemic – and generally feel unsupported by the government. To bolster their position in the event of further lockdowns or health crises in future – and to help reconnect government with this embattled sector – IPSE is recommending the government extend Statutory Sick Pay to the self-employed.

Read the full report here

 

Meet the authors

Joshua Toovey

Policy and research officer

Chloe Jepps

Head of Research

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