- Nick Elvin
An independent review has been carried out to assess what additional support can be provided to the increasing number of self-employed people across the country, better understand their motivations and reveal the challenges they face.
Commissioned by the Prime Minister and carried out by Julie Deane OBE, the Self Employment Review makes a number of recommendations for the Government to consider and outlines the need of the private sector to recognise the increasing economic potential of the self-employed.
The review says there is a need for education to better prepare young people for the role which self-employment might play in their future. It also recommends that the advice and support available to the self-employed is as accessible as possible, and says a central portal from which to navigate impartial support and services available to them is vital.
Deane also points out that a lack of a legal definition of self-employment is causing an issue, and simplification and clarification with a single definition for tax and employment law should be considered.
The location and availability of shared work spaces should be better communicated, and consideration should be given to incorporating such spaces in local libraries and community centres, she adds.
Commenting on the review, IPSE director of policy Simon McVicker, said: “The review is proof that ideas exist to improve the lives of self-employed workers throughout the country. We hope the recommendations will be taken up by government, as they will change the lives of the nation’s self-employed for the better. It’s important this thriving community has a suitable regulatory environment to grow into, which will only benefit and add to the competitiveness of our economy.”
The report also recommends that the Government considers enhancing the level of Maternity Allowance provided to the self-employed in the first six weeks – therefore bringing Maternity Allowance in line with Statutory Maternity Pay.
“It’s extremely refreshing to see the review has brought forward positive recommendations on the issue around self-employed maternity pay. The number of women choosing to go solo has now reached almost one and a half million, so it seemed unfair to punish them for working this way,” added McVicker. “Employment status should never be a barrier when choosing to have children. Reforming the maternity system will bring fairness and clarity to self-employed mothers everywhere.”
The Government should consider introducing a new ‘adoption allowance’ for self-employed adopters, the report also says. It also notes that as the number of self-employed increases, the need for more flexible financial solutions, from mortgages and insurance to pensions, will become more imperative.
The FCSA has also welcomed the report. Its CEO Julia Kermode said: “Julie Deane’s report is positive for the self-employed and we welcome her recommendations if the self-employed sector is to thrive and grow in the UK.
“The vast majority of self-employed people choose to become self-employed and see it as positive choice so I hope that the Government listens to Ms Deane’s recommendations and addresses the concerns she has unveiled by listening to this group of workers. More needs to be done to support the self-employed in the UK and removing excessive regulation and red tape is a must, as Ms Deane points out.
“Increasing numbers of people are opting to become self-employed and it is important that this economically important workforce is nurtured not hindered. FCSA looks forward to hearing how the Government responds to Ms Deane’s report in the coming weeks and months.”