Self-employment rates on the rise in 2016

Monday 21 November 2016

New figures show another rise in self-employment levels across the UK this year. The latest information from FSB reveals that the number of people becoming self-employed increased by 213,000 since November 2015. This means that 15.1 per cent of all people in work are now self-employed.

Government employment figures also show that unemployment, in general, is down, with 23.24 million people in full-time employment. This is an increase of 350,000 compared to this time last year, as well as an increase of 110,000 people working in part-time positions, which is a really positive trend.   

These findings are on par with the FSB's Small Business Index, which shows that more small businesses are taking on staff. In fact, seven per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have increased the number of people they employ.

Mike Cherry, FSB executive chairman, said: “More people in work is a testament to the hard work of small businesses. The fall in the unemployment rate is especially welcome. Those moving from unemployment into work are much more likely to become self-employed or work for a small business than a large business.

“If progress is to continue, the government must use the Autumn Statement to support small firms and the self-employed. That means prioritising much-needed infrastructure investment, including access to superfast broadband, and making clear there will be no increase in the small business tax burden."

He continued to say that so far, the UK has failed to keep up with the fast increase in the number of people becoming self-employed. These latest figures show that more needs to be done to support those who are or want to become self-employed.

Mr Cherry highlighted the need for more help for self-employed when it comes to things like income protection and access to mortgages. He also highlighted the need for the discrepancies between the self-employed and employees when it comes to matters of social security, with things like maternity pay still being an issue.

While the rise in self-employment is a big positive, especially alongside the increase in overall employment, the government must now recognise how important the self-employed are to the UK economy. This means taking steps to support them and ensure they have access to the same rights as employees.

The same can be said for SMEs, with Mr Cherry calling on the government to permanently increase business rate relief in order to better support small businesses, which are helping to drive employment across the country.

By Victoria McDonnell

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