More people choosing to be self-employed

With the growth of self-employment, more people are leaving traditional employment in search of a better work and life balance.

Figures by the Office for National Statistics show the number of people that are self-employed increased by 133,000 to 4.77 million between September and November 2016.

A survey of 2,305 adults by the Scottish Widows’ Centre for the Modern Family found that 53% of workers that have left their traditional jobs did so because they wanted more control and freedom over their working life.

43% wanted to be their own boss while 17% thought self-employment would allow them to fit work in around childcare responsibilities. 

Anita Frew, chair of the Centre for the Modern Family, said:

“With more and easier access to practical and financial support, individuals may feel better equipped to make their path in self-employment less stressful for themselves and their families, and bring them more of the benefits which attracted them to self-employment in the first place.”

Increased stress

Although more people are choosing to become self-employed, at least 1 in 5 households face increased finance stress.

19% of those with a self-employed relative claim that their family member has more financial concerns since becoming their own boss.

Further findings:

  • 20% said this person has more stress as a direct result of being self-employed
  • 11% said their whole family is under increased stress
  • 18% say their self-employed relative is always on call for work
  • 40% said they prefer the financial security of full-time employment
  • 39% said they enjoy employment benefits – pension, parental leave and sick pay too much to become self-employed.

In the foreword to the report, Anita Frew said:

“There is no doubt that self-employment provides multiple benefits for families, but our research shows that it can be harder to leave work at the door when you’re self-employed, meaning this growing network and their loved ones are grappling with increased levels of stress.”

Finance and retirement

A lack of financial support and the challenges long-term saving continue to be barriers for the self-employed and those considering becoming so.

There are some short-term finance support options available, such as:

  • funding from family or friends
  • grants from charities or trusts
  • bank loans.

However, when it comes to retirement savings, only 23% of all self-employed are saving into a private pension compared with 61% of all employees.

The government is currently looking into how the self-employed can be encouraged and supported to save for retirement as part of its auto-enrolment review.

Talk to us about self-employment and financial planning.