PCG tells TUC 'self-employment growth is a structural change'

Wednesday 16 April 2014

The PCG has hit back at claims from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) that the current rise in self-employment is anything but organic.

Chris Bryce, chief executive officer of the former, declared that existing labour market trends are the result of a "structural change in the way we approach the concept of work, not a cyclical occurrence based on an unhealthy jobs market".

This comes after the TUC commented on figures showing employment growth is now primarily driven by those choosing to go it alone.

According to the trade union, over 40 per cent of the self-employed jobs created since mid-2010 are part-time, with people only choosing to work this way because they are unable to find good quality permanent jobs.

TUC analysis revealed that the number of people choosing to start their own business has actually fallen in recent years.

Yet since Mid-2010, people working for themselves has gone up 232,000, while freelancing and sub-contracting have increased by 69,000 and 67,000 respectively.

Nevertheless, the TUC asserts that the number of self-employed people that run a business or are partners or sole directors has fallen by 52,000.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: "These newly self-employed workers are not the budding entrepreneurs ministers like to talk about. Only a tiny fraction run their own businesses, while the vast majority work for themselves or another employer – often with fewer rights, less pay and no job security."

However, Mr Bryce says that the rise in self-employment has been a "long-term phenomenon that has continued steadily over a number of years through both positive and negative economic periods".

He asserts that self-employed people are supporting economic growth and creating more jobs, which is helping the UK recover.

What's more, Mr Bryce claims that by linking the problems experienced by vulnerable workers to self-employment, the TUC is being unhelpful.

"The way we work is changing and it does not help our economy for backward-looking bodies like the TUC to fight against this change," he said. "Vulnerable workers need to be protected, but to tar all self-employed people with the same brush will do nothing for those who really need the support of a trade union."

Fighting the corner of contractors, freelancers, limited companies and sole traders alike, Mr Bryce added that research from the PCG has shown rising rates for the self-employed since 2011, while employees have witnessed falling salaries.

Eighty per cent of freelancers are content with the amount they are paid, while 90 per cent claim they are happy with the way they work.

Of those surveyed by the PCG, 80 per cent also enjoy the control they have over their working life and the amount of hours they work.

It's therefore unsurprising that self-employment accounts for 44 per cent of the net rise in employment since mid-2010.

Over-50s are leading the charge in changing the way Britons work - an expected truehood given that they have the most experience and, therefore, are likely to be the most in demand.


By Victoria McDonnell

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