16th Apr 2014
Just over a quarter of people who have become self-employed in the last five years would prefer to be an employee, new research has found.
Despite the fact that the number of self-employed people has grown steadily over the last five years – nearly 1.7 million people have become self-employed since 2009 - 450,000 would rather have a salaried job, the report by independent think tank the Resolution Foundation revealed.
These findings will add to the debate over whether the recent rise in self-employment is down to an entrepreneurial boom or due to people being forced into more insecure roles because they can’t find a suitable alternative.
Indeed, the report suggested that more people are becoming self-employed due to a lack of alternative work, with one in four citing this as the main reason behind their decision.
Although 72% of the newly self-employed are happy working for themselves, the survey also found that 28% of those who have become self-employed in the last five years are more likely to want an employed position, compared to just 11% who have been self-employed for five years or more.
This survey comes as the Office for National Statistics revealed today that the number of self-employed people increased by 146,000 to reach a record 4.5 million in the three months to February.
The surge in the number of self-employed has come under scrutiny this week by the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress Frances O'Grady, who stated that the upward trend was not due to an increase in the number of entrepreneurs, but was in fact down to people being forced into insecure roles, because there is no alternative work.
These comments caused the PCG, the membership body for freelancers and contractors, to hit back at the TUC, with its CEO Chris Bryce stating:
"Not only do self-employed people actively stimulate economic growth, research shows their work also creates the permanent jobs which the TUC purports to be fighting for.
"The boom in self-employment is at the heart of the UK’s economic recovery and for the TUC to blame it for the problems experienced by vulnerable workers is misguided and unhelpful."
Conor D’Arcy, researcher at the Resolution Foundation, said it is vital we know more about these newly self-employed workers.
"Some will see themselves as entrepreneurs and revel in setting up their own business – the clear majority still prefer to be their own boss - but a considerable minority appear to be there unwillingly or at least would prefer the security of being an employee given the choice.
"The new face of self-employment is more likely to be female and looking for an alternative compared with their more established counterparts."