It’s Time to Support Local Entrepreneurs

The drafting of the recent UK budget raised concerns for entrepreneurs. But it also served to highlight the changing fortunes of those who are self-employed.

Breaking a promise

The proposed increase in the National Insurance rate for the self-employed captured the headlines, not least because it betrayed a manifesto pledge by the Conservative party.

Without the rebuke that it broke a previous commitment the concern of so many commentators about the self-employed would have scarcely registered.

But the connection between an abandoned political promise and the hallowed ground of self-employment was too good to ignore. And so the backlash against the government and the Chancellor, in particular, was swift.

Political parties laud entrepreneurs as the motivation and force of the economy and the act of dampening their spirit was seen as unacceptable.

Small and micro businesses are now seen as an essential part of the economy and their willingness to leave the comfort of employment is seen as a boon to national prosperity.

But there is anxiety about the future and the effect that growing numbers of self-employed people have on local communities as it affects government’s ability to collect tax.

A mixed bag

The number of those in self-employment has doubled in recent years and now stands at almost 16% of the workforce. And it is expected to rise.

Over four-and-a-half million self-employed people now include accountants, builders, dentists, electricians, lawyers, van-drivers, taxi-drivers and a whole raft of digital and technology workers.

In many cases they earn modest wages, as only a few are lucky enough to attract the rewards of the role model entrepreneurs paraded in the headlines.

Entrepreneurs and the self-employed are a mixed population of young and old, male and female, full-time and part-time, and the retired and semi-retired.

In recent years the number of necessity entrepreneurs has risen as companies offer contract work instead of traditional jobs, which means many workers are nudged reluctantly into self-employment.

The trend is increasing as businesses trim costs and see employees as costly overheads to be reduced and replaced with cheaper technology in the form of robots and automation.

Others see self-employment as a way to find the flexibility and freedom they crave without the nuisance or distraction of a boss.

But trouble lurks in the future, as those who work for themselves are less likely than those who are employed to have retirement plans or adequate pensions.

They are also liable to have fewer savings, lower salaries, scant provision for sick pay, negligible parental leave, and difficulty in getting a loan or mortgage.

Government, therefore, while applauding the entrepreneur must do more to support them in word and deed.

So, those in self-employment are growing in numbers and government needs to provide greater support when crafting its budgets.