Why we must do more to support the self-employed

At Juro, we regularly help freelancers and independent consultants create and sign legal contracts. What we’ve learned from this process is that the burden of paperwork and chasing down late payments can be crippling.

New data from the think tank Bright Blue, where I am an Associate, both confirms this trend and highlights the policy implications around making life for the self employed easier.

Perhaps the most concerning of Bright Blue’s findings is that more than 48% of self-employed workers spend over an hour a week chasing down late payments. Nearly 20% spend over two hours (see figure below). It is well know that being paid late has become the paradigm for this segment of the economy.

(source: Bright Blue)

This is true for small businesses generally, but let’s also remember that the self-employed often work alone, with limited access to know-how and support. 64%, for example, have not accessed training in the last 12 months.

Moreover, one angle to late payments that is often overlooked is the ability of freelancers, and the self-employed generally, to cushion these financial blows. In Bright Blue’s study, 55% cited income volatility — the fluctuations and uncertainty of their income — as a ‘top 3’ concern in their working life.

And this is exacerbated by the fact that the self-employed have no access to statutory sick pay or many of the rights and benefits that go with a regular job. The combination, for a single person business, can be fatal.

It is vital that the Government continues in its efforts to support the self-employed. Technology companies, like Juro and many others, are playing their part to make life for the self-employed a little easier, but government too has a role to play in protecting those brave souls who choose to go it alone.