By PaperRocket Accounting, Oct 12 2017 01:42PM
During the TUC conference, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn hit out at the UK’s self-employed sector, focussing particularly on the gig economy, as well as temporary workers and those in short term contracts.
There are currently 4.85 million self-employed people working in the UK – making up 15.1% of the workforce, and so it is surprising to hear the Labour leader’s negative opinions on the sector.
In his speech he discussed the rise of the gig economy and how this method of working has harmed workers’ mental health, with this type of employment refusing ‘both employees and customers basic protections’.
He also believes that companies that use contractors are a ‘source of continuous worry and insecurity for millions of people’.
This will feel like quite a slap in the face for the many self-employed people who may have voted Labour, particularly when they contribute such a significant amount of money into the country’s economy – over £119 billion.
In fact, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) believe that the country will now rely more than ever on self-employed workers.
After the recent ONS report showing record levels of employment and continued growth in the number of contractors, Jonathan Lima-Matthews, IPSE’s Senior Policy Adviser, commented on the findings, “The UK Labour Market continues to show its strength and has maintained its leading position in Europe. Despite fears of complete economic collapse after the EU referendum, the UK economy still seems to be going strong for now.
“And although the significant drop in the number of people employed on zero-hours contracts is clearly positive, it also means the UK economy will now rely more than ever on the flexibility provided by the self-employed. It’s very encouraging, therefore, that today’s figures also show that an additional 23,000 self-employed people entered the workforce between April and June compared to the same period last year.”
Commenting on Corbyn’s Conference speech whereby he outlined plans for a National Education Service to help deal with the evolving nature of work, the IPSE believe that the Labour leader should be focussing on more immediate concerns, particularly with regards to the self-employed sector.
Chris Bryce, IPSE CEO, said, “In a speech as broad and extensive as Corbyn’s, we would have hoped he could have directly mentioned the value of the UK’s booming 4.8 million-strong self-employed workforce.”
“Animated by the tide of automation and technological change, Corbyn detailed some very ambitious plans for a new National Education Service. While this commitment to making education and training available across the population is heartening, it’s also important to look at more immediate concerns.
“Lifelong learning is vital, but there are short-term issues that need be addressed to allow the self-employed to flourish. As it stands, if you are self-employed, training outside your profession isn’t tax-deductible as it is for employees. In our rapidly-evolving economy, this must change so the self-employed workforce can be given the tools to continue driving the UK’s growth, flexibility and competitiveness.”
Corbyn is urging young people to look after their rights by joining trade unions and although this will of course be a great source of protection for workers, he must also understand that the self-employed route does work for so many people.
He can’t ignore the fact that there are now more people than ever before choosing to join the sector and so he should perhaps look at supporting and providing protection for these types of workers too.
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