Study launched to measure value of umbrella sector

Friday 24 October 2014

A research programme has been launched to uncover the size and value of the umbrella employment sector, including the umbrella company contractors that are employed through it.

The Freelancer and Contractor Services Association (FCSA) is the body behind the research and is inviting all umbrella companies to weigh in on the research. Employment research consultancy Worklab will be undertaking the research on the FCSA's behalf. Data will be analysed independently and participants in the study will receive insights from this.

Part of the reason for the research is to demonstrate to the government and policy makers, just how integral the umbrella sector is to the UK economy.

Chief executive of FCSA Julia Kermode said: "We know from our various lobbying activities that Government and policymakers do not fully appreciate the economic value of our sector. Credible data is needed to demonstrate this.  Nothing suitable currently exists, so we decided to commission independent research.  We will use the results to directly influence decision-makers."

Speaking about the reason why all umbrella companies are invited to take part in the study, Ms Kermode said: "We believe that, broadly speaking, the interests of the majority of organisations operating in the service provider community are aligned.  For this reason, a key aim of this research programme is to provide a united voice for the sector."

In the past, a number of groups have complained about the lack of involvement from the government and policy makers in the umbrella sector and with self employed professionals in general.

For example, The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE), has been lobbying for greater inclusion for self employed people in government policies for some time.

IPSE released a manifesto detailing changes that it hopes to see made for the self employed sector. It is also currently leading a petition in the run up to National Freelancers Day on November 19th, which asks the government to offer more support to the self employed sector.

The changes it is calling for include getting a Minister of Self Employment appointed to lead the sector, better tackling of late payments and improvements in infrastructure, such as broadband, to support the self employed sector.

Additionally, the manifesto states that it is unfair that self employed parents receive less support from the government than parents who work as employees and, as such, is calling for this to change.

Part of the reason why attention is being drawn towards the self employed sector now is down to the fact that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has already found that there are close to five million people who choose to work in this way at present. A figure that continues to rise all the time.

The amount of people who are self employed represents 15 per cent of the workforce, according to ONS. What's more, the proportion of people who are choosing this way of working is rising at a faster rate than those who choose to follow traditional employment routes.


By Victoria McDonnell

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