Nearly one in two (48%) self-employed workers are aged 50 or older – the highest proportion in the past decade – according to new analysis from Rest Less.
In its latest analysis of bespoke data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), Rest Less – a digital community and advocate for people aged over 50 – found that the proportion of self-employed workers aged over 50 has grown year on year for the past 10 years. This is despite particular challenges faced by the self-employed workforce such as Covid and changes to government policies, which include a reduction in the dividend tax allowance and changes to off-payroll rules known as IR35.
Meanwhile, the proportion of people aged under 50 in self-employment has been in steady decline over the same time period (52% in 2022).
Chart reproduced with kind permission from Rest Less.
Stuart Lewis, Chief Executive of Rest Less, commented: “The long term rise in self-employment amongst the over 50s is a significant trend that reflects changing attitudes towards work and retirement amongst this generation. As people are living longer, they are increasingly looking for ways to remain engaged and active in the workforce for longer too.
‘Self-employment provides a way for older workers to use their skills and experience in a flexible and autonomous way whilst also generating income and maintaining their sense of purpose. Technological advancements means setting up a business in your 50s or 60s has never been easier and armed with rich life experience and a valuable business network behind them, the appeal of building something of their own or pursuing a passion project can be a powerful draw.
‘There is a more sinister side to the rise in self-employment amongst this age group too. Shut out of the mainstream workforce due to a lack of flexible working opportunities and rampant age discrimination in the workplace means many older workers have no choice but to set up on their own. Stuck between a rock and a hard place with a rising cost of living and the state pension age soon to be extended to 67, self-employment can feel like the only option for many who have been denied access to traditional employment.”