Policymakers and business leaders must work to improve the wellbeing of self-employed workers. That's according to a new report by the Centre for Research on Self-Employment (CRSE).

The report considers self-employed people’s overall life satisfaction. It found striking differences both between employees and the self-employed and also between different self-employed groups.

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Overall, well being is higher among self-employed people. However, there is great disparity in the life satisfaction levels of different self-employed groups.

Bridging the gap

To help bridge the gap, CRSE urges policymakers and business leaders to adopt targeted, varied policies to improve wellbeing among different self-employed groups.

Its key policy recommendations include:

  • Abolish the New Enterprise Allowance or improve its extremely low uptake. This can be done by offering accompanying training and mentoring
  • Create a more appreciative culture where business failures are seen as a normal part of entrepreneurial life
  • Ensure better and faster access to mentoring when starting out. Also during business crisis periods to reduce stress and improve confidence
  • Improve access to skills-development resources tailored to the self-employed, such as by extending tax allowances to cover new skills and by granting self-employed people training vouchers
  • Improve the long-term financial sustainability of the self-employed. The DWP and pension providers should introduce financial products and information about saving for later life that are specifically tailored to the self-employed, including pensions
  • Create more co-working spaces to combat the sense of isolation self-employed often experience. Allow them to work together and also share insurances, childcare and other business-related services
  • Prioritise solutions that help reduce the stress caused by irregular cash flows. The banking industry should introduce self-employment-friendly banking services. They should also be more informational campaigns and online resources.

Impacting lives

“With self-employment on the rise across the UK, it’s more important than ever to understand the impact it’s having not just on our economy, but on the lives of real people,” Suneeta Johal, director of the Centre for Research on Self Employment, said.

“It’s time for policymakers and business leaders to step up and do more to improve the life satisfaction of the self-employed,” she added. “Because actually, when you improve the subjective wellbeing of the self-employed, it’s not just them who benefit – it’s businesses across the country and our whole economy. Government and other policymakers must take heed of this report’s recommendations and make sure self-employment stays a positive way of working for all.”

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