UK: 25% of self-employed would rather be employees

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A leading think tank has published research which reveals that over a quarter of self-employed workers in the UK would rather be employees.

The poll – conducted by Ipsos Mori and commissioned by the Resolution Foundation – found that 28 per cent of workers who have become self-employed in the past five years would rather work for an employer while one in four reported difficulties obtaining personal credit or loans due to their employment status.

The news comes as figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that unemployment fell by 77,000 in the three months to February, to a five-year low of 2.24 million.

However, Conor Darcy, a researcher at the Resolution Foundation told Equal Times the government should look behind the statistics.

“I think to praise these figures is short sighted...we do definitely need to look at the quality of jobs that are on offer: what exactly people are doing and how they’re being supported so it’s not just about getting people into low paid jobs.”

There are now around 4.3 million registered self-employed workers in Britain, making up around one in seven of the workforce.

According to ONS figures the number of self-employed workers has grown by 15 per cent since the economic recession in 2008.

However, research from the Resolution Foundation published earlier this year shows their median earnings have dropped by 20 per cent since 2006.

Darcy says this highlights the importance of conducting further research on the evolving UK labour market.

“The UK has had impressive employment growth over recent months, a sizable proportion of which has been driven by an explosion in self-employment. That’s why it’s vital we know more about these new self-employed workers.”



Andy Britner, a 49-year-old trained electrician from Manchester, is one of an estimated 450,000 self-employed people who would rather work for an employer. Formerly an electrician, Britner entered self-employment last year as he could not afford to pay for the latest regulation exam which he was required to take to remain qualified.

“I was trapped. The job centre were telling me not to apply for that type of work anymore. The only training they could offer me was totally unsuitable,” he recalls.

Britner now works doing basic jobs such as domestic light fitting but claims that the introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’ earlier this year means some weeks his income is lower than when he was claiming unemployed benefits.

“It’s a bit erratic – if I don’t get much work in sometimes I’m £40 (US$65) worse off than when I was unemployed. I’m only just surviving. The government says people are better off in work but that just isn’t true for many people.” he says.

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the UK’s Trades Union Congress (TUC) said in a statement:

“Self-employment accounts for almost half of all the new jobs created under this government. But these newly self-employed workers are not the budding entrepreneurs ministers like to talk about.

“Only a tiny fraction run their own businesses, while the vast majority work for themselves or another employer – often with fewer rights, less pay and no job security.

“While some choose to be self-employed, many people are forced into it because there is no alternative work.

“The lack of a stable income and poor job security often associated with self-employment makes it hard for people to pay their bills, arrange childcare, plan holidays or even buy or rent a home,” she said.