Labour pledge help for self employment

Thursday 25 September 2014

The Labour party has pledged to help sole traders, limited companies and other self employed professionals if it is voted in in the next election.

This announcement was made as part of party leader Ed Miliband's speech at the annual Labour Party Conference.

He promised to provide equal rights for people who are self employed, helping them with such issues as getting mortgages and sorting out their pensions.

Mr Miliband claimed that there is discrimination in the 21st century against the five million people in the UK who are self employed.

He stated: "We need to talk about them more. Five million people, often the most entrepreneurial. ... they don't want special privileges, they just want a fair shot."

Indeed, the number of people who are self employed is increasing; figures from the Office for National Statistics shows that the portion of people who work in this manner is currently the largest seen for the last 40 years.

However, Mr Miliband explained that two out of three self employed professionals do not have a pension and one in five are unable to obtain a mortgage.

The pledge from Mr Miliband was welcomed by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE).

Commenting on Mr Miliband's speech, director of policy and external affairs from IPSE Simon McVicker said: "It is encouraging that the Labour leader has recognised the importance of the self-employed and has made this growing sector a key part of his speech. With almost 5 million self-employed workers in the UK it is important that the main political parties in the UK sit up and take notice of independent professionals, today we believe Ed Miliband did."

However, he did err on the side of caution when it comes to arranging rights for the self employed. He commended Labour for recognising the importance of such issues as pensions and maternity pay, yet added that the party should be careful not to make self employed people unappealing to their clients.

Mr McVicker reminded that IPSE itself released a manifesto this month that contained a range of policies that are intended to add more potential to the self-employed.

These included ideas for maternity pay and a plan for improved and more flexible options in terms of pensions for people who are self-employed.

He said that these pensions are intended to add support to self employed professionals without restricting their freedom. What's more, he says that IPSE intendeds to work with all political parties on this matter to give the self employment sector more of a chance.

Prior to the campaign, there were calls from a number of groups for Labour to give more attention to self employment in its annual party conference.

For example, the Labour Finance and Industry Group suggested that a policy framework should be drawn up that is more focussed on contractors. It said that this framework could be a Freelancers' Charter, that would offer a model for how policies could be developed for self employed people moving forward.

By Victoria McDonnell

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