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Gloucestershire Business News

Shrinking self-employed need support warns FSB

The number of self-employed people in the UK fell by 10 per cent in the last year - more than half of them in the last quarter.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics put the number of self-employed workers at 4.5 million, down from five million 12 months ago.

And in the third quarter of the year, the number of people changing their status from self-employed to employee was 277,000 - the highest figure since records began.

Federation of Small Businesses national chairman Mike Cherry said the self-employed need more support if they are to play the same role in the post-Covid economic recovery as they did after the last recession.

He said: "The economy will be permanently changed by Covid, and we need to encourage more of those who are leaving jobs that will not return to launch enterprises that will be here for years to come.

"We've successfully worked alongside government on the Enterprising You initiative in Manchester - exploring new ways to increase the take-up of training opportunities among the self-employed. It's now time for the pilot to be rolled-out more widely.

"Universal Credit also needs to be permanently reformed so that it reflects the realities of starting a new business - not everyone can be blessed with ready access to start-up capital."

He continued: "The Government listened to us where the Minimum Income Floor is concerned - delaying its reintroduction - but there is more work to do, especially where the start-up period is concerned.

"Too many independents are falling through cracks in the current business support landscape - not least new business owners, sole traders earning more than £50,000 and company directors - that urgently needs to change if we want more people to take the start-up plunge and become the employers of the future.

"Policymakers must do more to encourage those who are out of work to strike out on their own - a Kickstart Start-Up initiative could be one way forward, building on the success of the New Enterprise Allowance and Start-Up Loans programmes."

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