Sunday, July 19, 2009

What Accounts For The Growth In Number Of Self-Employed In UK?

Self-employed people simply refer to those who work for themselves rather than being directly under an employer. The growth in the number of Britons who dumped their rat-race job increased dramatically during the tenure of Conservatives. Although the figure is now growing at a diminishing rate, nevertheless as a proportion of total workforce, it is somewhat significant. It is estimated that around 15% of Britons are now self-employed and more will join the rank soon

Geographically, Brighton, Belfast, Bristol, Southampton and London are the entrepreneurial hotspots

Reasons for growth:

(1) Great satisfaction. Perhaps this is the strongest argument. No matter how hard one works for others, he will never be rewarded proportionately with his effort. Suppose a person stays back everyday after the official working hour, he may be just given a decent allowance. There is no guarantee of increase in annual pay, bonuses and promotion and yet the opportunity cost in terms of quality time lost is much larger. This argument may not be that applicable to a sales person. However, being own-boss one could dictate what his business does and how to do it. If things went well, he will be rewarded handsomely for the value he created. Unlike sticking with a company, he will get small portion of the value he created for the organization. Lastly, he can’t be retrenched

(2) Recession. One of the reasons why self-employment peak in early 1990s was due to recession when UK locked herself into the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). Interest rates were at historical high level, causing every level of economic activities to come to a standstill. Being unemployed for a long time period had forced the jobless to turn into self-employment

(3) Dying manufacturing industry. UK was once known as the ‘workshop of the world’ producing for more than 50% of global output. However, the importance of manufacturing sector to British economy is fast deteriorating. There are few explanations for this. First is the weakening of trade union since several laws that are in favour of employers were passed. Jobs are no longer that secure. Secondly, the rise in the standard of living has caused demand for services to continuously increase since it is income elastic in nature while manufacturing goods generally have lower income elasticity of demand. Lastly, the strength of pound and the emergence of low-cost Asian economies have caused UK to strongly lose its cost-competitiveness. More jobs are outsourced now. Similar with previous explanation, long run structural unemployment forced these people to go into self-employment

(4) Government policy. Various policies were put into action to jumpstart entrepreneurial activities. The government offers advice and gives grants to encourage people to start their own business. For instance in Budget 2008, the Labour government offered Small Firms’ Loan Guarantee Scheme (SFLG). A huge sum of money was also set aside to assist women entrepreneurs. Besides, revamp was made onto capital gains tax where the first £1 million of gains on business assets will be given a relief


chris sivewright said...

Also the tax regime. I teach from home. I earn £55 an hour BUT of that £55, part of it is allowed BECAUSE I teach from home (i.e. use of home). I can also claim photocopying/printing, my broadband costs, depreciation of computer etc.

Plus...use of phone

Plus...of course I sometimes give students coffee, biscuits, more claimed.

Then there's the curtains, carpet wear and tear....stamps when I send out reports....

It's not unusual to gross say £80,000 a year but the NET (on which I pay tax) is about £20,000.
And that tax is paid twice yearly not every week/month. (It's called 'fiscal lag'...)

Plus all the possibilities of being paid cash-in-hand...

A friend of mine was unemployed for a year. He came to Oxford, England and within a fortnight was on £1000 a week CASH, digging gardens etc. He worked very hard for the summer months and earned around £12,000.

Then he went on a round-the-world trip...

Lawrence Low said...

Hi, thanks for sharing some thoughts

Good day!