Self-employment rises as fewer contractors struggle to find work

Wednesday 26 October 2016

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has just released its latest bulletin highlighting the changing state of employment in the UK. The 'UK Labour Market: October 2016' report has found that the number of British people working for themselves has continued to rise; something that has been praised by key industry bodies.

According to the ONS, the number of self-employed people during June-August this year was 4.79 million, which equates to around 15.1 per cent of the UK workforce. This is an increase of 273,000 people - or roughly six per cent - when compared to the same period of 2015.

This rise might not seem impressive, but proportionally it is well above the increase in standard employment. Overall employees rose by 296,000, which equates to just over 1.1 per cent of the total of 26.83 million.

There was a small dip in the number of temporary workers in the latest ONS report, a category that includes many contractors. In total, the number of employees on temporary contracts dropped from 1.664 million in June-August 2015 to 1.658 million in the same period of 2016, which is a drop of around 6,000 people.

This means that temporary workers have fallen slightly from making up 6.3 per cent of the UK workforce to making up 6.2 per cent of it. However, only 30.8 per cent of these temporary employees were unable to find work, meaning the situation is considerably better than in 2015, when that figure stood at 35.1 per cent.

Many important industry bodies have commented on the statistics, which have positive implications for both UK self-employment and the British economy in general. Lorence Nye, economic advisor for the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE), said the announcement was "good news".

He added: "The fastest growing group of self-employed workers are the highly-skilled, specialist experts – the technicians, engineers, and consultants. Studies have consistently shown the majority of those who work this way make a positive choice to do so."

Another key industry figure who commented on the statistics was Julia Kermode, the chief executive of the Freelancer and Contractor Services Association (FCSA). She pointed out that this news is not only good for those looking to become their own bosses, but also for the wider UK economy.
She said: "This is positive for the economy as there are more flexible workers able to support businesses as and when needed. This is borne out by the year on year figures that show 49 per cent of the 560,000 increase in the UK workforce is due to self-employment.”

By Victoria McDonnell

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