Latest research by the London School of Economics indicates that one in five self-employed people anticipates changing to a different way of working. The same research also shows that 58% of self-employed people had less work than usual in August 2020, and that 32% had less than 10 hours work per week.
In contrast, those who obtain work through digital apps experienced an upturn with 28% reporting more work than usual in August. These workers made up 8% of the survey population, and include roles such as drivers, parcel deliverers and food deliverers. Concerningly these workers reported being worried about the possible detrimental health impact of continuing work, but felt they had no option due to fear of losing future work. Since the research was published, IWGB trade union has obtained a High Court ruling that the government failed to implement health and safety law for such workers, see our article here.
As champions of independent work, we are concerned that so many self-employed people want to change to a different way of working. Understandably, it is likely that the government’s lack of financial support for independent workers during the pandemic has contributed to this sentiment, and it has been shocking that they have continued to ignore a significant proportion of the working population at this time. The political position is even more shocking considering how important self-employment and micro-businesses are to the UK’s economy, particularly given that these are the very people likely to get the UK out of recession.
It is worth noting that LSE’s research shows a very significant decrease in optimism amongst self-employed people when comparing their views in May and September 2020. When surveyed in May, 20% of respondents thought their normal activity would resume by December, whereas current figures show 33% of respondents believe this won’t happen until after February 2021.
The LSE report concludes with the suggestion that the recent two decades of increasing self-employment is set to reverse, however we remain to be convinced. In our opinion, the combined forces of redundancies and businesses looking to make savings by outsourcing will contribute to more people considering self employment, and that such newly self-employed people might offset those looking to switch to employment. Furthermore, we know from our discussions with experts for our podcast that there are a number of new businesses setting up currently, so whilst the picture overall is certainly mixed there are some positives.