Self employed – need support?
More than 300,000 people in Scotland are their own boss – more than work in the Forces, local government or the NHS – with numbers likely to swell further in 2017. The spike in selfemployment accounts for nearly half of the fall in unemployment since the recession.
In the last year, the debate about this shift has intensified. Some argue that its part of a wider economic problem – that people are turning to self-employment because there aren’t enough good jobs. Others pitch this change as a boom in entrepreneurship, the march of the makers, equating self-employment with self-reliance.
Big business and the public sector downsizing is at least partly accountable for this rise, in the UK and elsewhere. Digital technologies and the cost and complexity of employment are also contributing factors. What’s clear is that being self-employed is no fairy tale. You’re likely to take home less money, and have none of the benefits of employment like sick pay and holidays.
While FSB can help to provide smaller firms and the self-employed with back office support – like legal and tax advice – the country’s army of freelancers can often find their work and home life entwined. Doing your paperwork with your spouse at the kitchen table after the kids have gone to bed is a story we hear often from members.
But, in return, self-employment offers flexibility. Indeed, self-employment levels are high amongst those with a disability or with caring duties. You can understand that if you can’t find a job that can fit round your needs, working for yourself is the natural choice.
But most of all, being the boss can be immensely rewarding – both figuratively and literally – if you get your business right. Studies reveal that most of the self-employed are happy and less than one in ten are planning to get a so-called ‘proper job’ within a year.
Next year, FSB in Scotland will publish new research mapping self-employment levels across Scotland. It reveals a close relationship between prosperity, rurality and high levels of self-employment.
This link shows that there’s absolutely a place for those who work for themselves in successful Scottish local economies, but we need to adjust our systems and processes to account for these self-starters. For example, given their number, we believe that it is absolutely right for selfemployed parents to be given the same state support as employees. Indeed, we’ve pressed for the Scottish Government to deliver parental and adoption support for the self-employed when they get additional welfare powers in 2017. Further, we’re pressing Ministers to revisit their jobs plan to look at how to best help those that work for themselves.
If you’re thinking of starting up in 2017, you deserve the best chance to succeed. FSB is right behind you, and we’re asking Holyrood to do the same. As experts in business, FSB offers members a wide range of vital business services, including advice, financial expertise, support and a powerful voice in Government. Its aim is to help smaller businesses achieve their ambitions.
If you join BWS, your registration fee to join fsb.org.uk will be waivered for new members (yearly fee still due). Further information on the BWS website, under memberships