The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has launched a campaign dedicated to improving the prospects of the UK’s 4.8 million sole traders.

It is called Think Self-Employed and calls for new policies to help boost the confidence of self-employed workers. it also aims to provide them with better working conditions.


Two weeks of statutory paternity pay. Also an Adoption Allowance for the self-employed; amends to the Parental Bereavement Bill to ensure sole traders are included in the potential legislation.

Reform of Universal Credit (UC). Also protection for sole traders from losing out due to fluctuating incomes; extension of the UC ‘start-up period’ to ensure claimants have at least two years to get firms off the ground.

A Brexit deal that works for sole traders. One which allows them to cross European borders without administrative burdens and additional costs.

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This new agenda comes on the back of research by FSB. This has found that confidence among the self-employed community has fallen significantly over the last year.

The FSB Small Business Index (SBI) for the self-employed stands at +2.8 in Q2 2018. This is down substantially from the two-year high of +9.7 seen in Q1 2017. Meanwhile, more than one in four (28%) sole traders currently expect business performance will worsen over the coming three months. Four in ten are not expecting a meaningful improvement, and under one in three think their business performance will improve.

“The UK’s self-employed community contributes more than £270 billion to the economy annually yet they’re still treated as an afterthought by policy makers. We’ll be campaigning over the coming months to change that status quo,” FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said. “It can’t be right that a self-employed father isn’t entitled to any kind of statutory pay when he spends time with a new child.”

Further recommendations

  • Ensuring that lessons are learned from the impact of changes to IR35 legislation in the public sector before rolling them out to the private sector
  • Using the self-assessment process to nudge the self-employed towards saving more for the future. Only 17% of self-employed people have a private pension, compared to 78% of employees
  • Closer working between government and financial services firms. Helping the self-employed overcome barriers faced when applying for mortgages, loans and insurance products
  • Introducing tax relief on training courses for the self-employed. Specifically for where it provides them with new skills to ensure they can compete in a rapidly changing economy
  • Providing Local Enterprise Partnerships with comprehensive information on the number of self-employed people in their area. This being so they can target small business support effectively.

“It’s excellent to see other leading trade associations like the FSB coming out in support of the UK’s 4.8 million self-employed,” Simon McVicker, IPSE’s director of policy, added. “All too often, their enormous economic contribution to the UK goes unrecognised". "They are simply seen as a target for ill-conceived tax grabs like the changes to IR35.”

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