Self-employed workers need more support running their businesses, a government review led by leading entrepreneur Julie Deane says.
Accounting for 15% of the UK’s total workforce, there are now more than 4.6 million self-employed people in the UK – an all-time high.
The report, released today, calls for self-employed workers to have similar rights to employees, including maternity allowances and better financial guidance, so working for yourself doesn’t put you at a disadvantage.
“It is important that with the increased growth in self-employment, and the subsequent benefits that this group brings to the economy, that there are systems in place to support the self-employed in the same way as the employed,” the report states.
Deane, who launched The Cambridge Satchel Company from her kitchen table, says the aim is to make self-employment a “positive choice”, especially with the majority of those surveyed for the report stating they had no plans to return to working for someone else.
“They have found a good balance with work/life commitments and are often happier,” the report stated.
However, there is still an information gap. After finding that the most common area the self-employed were looking for support was around taxation and financial advice, it called on the government to provide better information for the self-employed and more flexible financial solutions.
“Of those who thought more information was needed, advice on cashflow, bookkeeping and record keeping was the most popular, followed by advice on tax returns and tax matters, practical advice on how to run a business, and the pros and cons of being self-employed,” it said.
Recognising companies like Xero, the report says a bulk of the current information self-employed people rely on comes from the private sector.
Technology unleashes productivity
By harnessing the power of the cloud and combining it with an increasingly mobile workforce, we can build a small business community and boost productivity.
“Technology has had a tremendous impact, particularly over the last ten years. The many factors within the self-employed landscape have changed, including age profile and, the methods and even the location of where they work,” the report states.
The UK’s productivity gap was highlighted in a Goldman Sachs’ note published last November. It found a US-based employee generated 39% more GDP compared to their UK-based cousins. This gap is where technology, which helps small businesses become more productive, can have the greatest economic benefit.
In the UK, and right around the world, small businesses are a massive economic driver. Accounting for just over 99% of all companies in the UK, they generate 47% of the nation’s revenue and employ 60% of the workforce. They’re the key to unlocking economic growth.
However, without support, many small businesses struggle to grow and that has a material impact on the economy. We can support the UK’s small business economy through beautiful software, advice and connections. But this report highlights just how important a small business owner’s relationship with their accountant is.
The UK government accepts the need to reduce the compliance burden on small and medium businesses, which they are attempting to do through their tax simplification and digital transformation policies. This will hopefully encourage more small businesses to expand, and by adopting technology, they’ll be better equipped for this journey.
Technology has revolutionised the way we work, creating more opportunities for the self-employed, shaking up entire industries by streamlining and automating tasks. It’s also connecting businesses with completely new customer bases.
Global SaaS company Xero has its sights set on flipping the straight-edged accounting sector and in the process, help small businesses thrive by giving them a platform which incorporates real-time data and provides the opportunity to collaborate with their advisors by giving entrepreneurs the tools they need to operate efficiently in the modern world.
By deploying cloud technology, a world of opportunity is opening up for small businesses. It’s also helped establish entirely new entities which are helping existing small businesses work smarter.
The spread of affordable technology solutions is giving business owners the opportunity to think about their next phase of growth.
It’s also levelling the playing field. By giving small businesses access to sophisticated technology, that was once only available to enterprise, the little guys are starting to compete with the big end of town. There are a lot of advantages that come with being small, you can pivot quickly, provide bespoke solutions and act in an agile fashion.
Having access to live data on the Xero Dashboard, small business owners have a real-time view of the state of their company, from anywhere, they can get a better understanding of where they’re at.
By opening up integrations with the likes of Apple, Google and Microsoft, linking up bank feeds and connecting more than 500 integrations to the cloud accounting platform, Xero has been able to streamline the lives of small business owners right around the world.