Sole traders need recognition

Figures from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) reveals that the UK’s self-employed contribute a staggering £270bn to the national economy every year.

There are now 4.8 million self-employed people – that is 15 per cent of all people in work.

And the FSB, which is headquartered in Blackpool, says it is time that they were given the recognition they deserve.

National chairman Mike Cherry says: “They are still treated as an afterthought by policymakers. We’re campaigning to change that status quo.”

He also believes more needs to be done to encourage self-employed people to save for their future.

And it is a worrying fact that only one in five self-employed workers has a private pension – that compares to four in five employees.

The FSB says that there is a need to use the self-assessment process to “nudge” sole traders towards putting more away for the future.

The organisation also points out other areas where people who work for themselves are failing to get the basic support they need.

Self-employed fathers are not entitled to any statutory pay for time spent with a new child. Equally, there’s no allowance for self-employed workers who are looking to adopt.

Brexit is another issue of potential future concern – especially amongst sole traders with contracts in different parts of Europe.

The FSB is rightly concerned about the impact any additional paperwork or costs associated with cross borders once the UK has made its exit could have.

To raise awareness of these issues, and the challenges facing such an important part of our economy, the FSB has now launched the #ThinkSelfEmployed campaign, which is dedicated to improving the prospects of UK sole traders.

As Cherry says: “It is encouraging to see the self-employed community going from strength to strength. It’s disappointing, though, that in so many respects they don’t receive the basic support they’re due.”

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