Is this good or bad for you?

The number of self employed people in the UK rose to 4.14 million recently, with 300,000 workers taking the plunge to go it alone since spring 2008. This is the highest number of self employed since records began in 1992 and currently represents 14.2% of the UK working population.

According to the Chartered Institute of Professional Development’s (CIPD) Chief Economic Advisor, John Philpott, this increase in self employment is good news as it is helping to reduce the impact of rising unemployment in the UK.

This could be a double edged sword for seasoned flexible workers, such as professional contractors, temps and freelancers, as it may mean that the competition for assignments is hotting up with more and more people entering the fray. However, with all their experience, established networks of contacts, and undoubted drive and innovation, seasoned contractors and freelancers should retain a competitive edge over the newcomers.

Perhaps the most positive aspect of this story is that with greater numbers comes greater recognition from the powers that be, something we have been calling for since the year dot!

Successive governments have failed to appreciate the valuable contribution flexible workers and the self employed make to the UK economy and they have suffered as a result. Legislation has been regularly brought in to tackle a problem with a ‘one size fits all’ attitude and this has usually led to more challenges for contractors, temps and the professional self employed than it has benefits. The recently introduced Agency Workers Regulations being the latest high profile example. Yes, it is absolutely right to protect vulnerable agency workers but it should not be at a cost to self employed professionals, contractors and freelancers who have made a choice to go it alone.

Hopefully the next time new legislation comes along 4.14 million voices can’t be ignored.

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