Self-Employment Remains Broadly Stable, but IPSE Warns of Threats

Labour market statistics show that although the total number of self-employed in the UK has fallen slightly by 38,000 to 4.77 million, the headline figure of 4.8 million remains stable. IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed) has, however, warned of downward pressure and threats facing the self-employed sector.

Unemployment also fell by 65,000 to 1.36 million – the lowest since 1975. Because of this and the continued strength of the self-employed sector, the rate of unemployment is now down from 4.4 per cent last year to 4.0 per cent.

Andy Chamberlain, IPSE’s Deputy Director of Policy, commented:

“Self-employment continues to be a popular option for people who want to take control of their working lives. But there are concerns.

“IPSE’s members report rising business costs and downward pressure on earnings. There is a lack of confidence in the UK economy, largely linked to certainty over Brexit, and a view that government policies, such as IR35, are mainly hostile to the sector.

“These factors may have contributed to the small drop in self-employment, but will also be linked to poor weather and poor economic performance in the UK as a whole during the second quarter of 2018.

“At a time when there is concern about the economy, the government should be supporting the UK’s 4.8 million self-employed. It can do this by reversing its proposal to change the IR35 rules, which will make it harder for businesses to access the flexible, self-employed talent they need to survive in an uncertain economy.”

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