May 3 2016.

This FSB has launched a new, landmark report on self-employment, entitled ‘Going it alone, moving on up: Supporting self-employment in the UK’.

The report sheds light on the many benefits and challenges of becoming one's own boss, and helps to explain why more than 15% of the UK workforce chose to work for themselves. Indeed, as a share of the workforce, self-employment is now at the highest level in 40 years, up from 12% of the workforce in 2000 and eight per cent in 1980. As a result, the self-employed have never before received so much interest among politicians and policymakers.

FSB was set up in 1974 as ‘The National Federation of the Self-Employed and Small Businesses’ principally to help promote and protect the self-employed. As the leading member-led organisation representing the self-employed, FSB is therefore uniquely placed to contribute to this discussion. This report builds on this mission and the work we have undertaken since our inception to support those who ‘go it alone’.

The report shows that while more people are taking the brave decision to become their own boss than ever before, for many self-employment can pose unique challenges – such as not having the security of a regular income, not getting paid if you fall ill and not being able to save enough for retirement. With 5.4 million businesses operating in the UK today, of whom four million are going it alone, it is clear that more needs to be done to support these individuals – not just the businesses they stand behind.

Among the key recommendations we make in this report is the need to improve the safety net for the self-employed who miss out on many benefits employees take for granted. This includes increasing the Maternity Allowance so it is in line with the more generous Statutory Maternity Pay, as well as calling on the insurance industry to develop more affordable income protection insurance products for the self-employed.

FSB also wants to see the self-employed get better access to business support and financial assistance where it is available. We call on Ministers to take advantage of delays in the rollout of Universal Credit to make it more flexible and responsive to the needs of the self-employed. The current rules are overly complicated, bureaucratic and will penalise many self-employed individuals on low incomes.

Read the report HERE.