The number of self-employed workers in the UK fell to 4,496,000 in the three months to October, representing a quarterly drop of 183,000.
The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) said the figures, published today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showed a “year of relentless decline” for the sector.
It has also said that the continuing decline shows the urgent need for the government to consider the recent Directors Income Support Scheme proposal by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and campaign group Forgotten Limited.
The number of self-employed individuals has now fallen by 460,000 over the twelve-month period.
“Today’s labour market statistics show a further drastic fall in the number of self-employed in the UK,” said Andy Chamberlain, director of policy at IPSE. “They reflect the end of a year of relentless decline for the sector, as self-employed people have been financially devastated by the pandemic and, in many cases, simply not received the support they need from government.
“After growing continuously for over ten years, in 2020 the self-employed sector has slumped as hundreds of thousands have been pushed out, with many ending up in the benefits system.
“The continuing decline of the sector shows the urgent need for the government to look again at support for excluded groups such as the newly self-employed and sole directors of limited companies.
“We and other organisations have proposed numerous solutions to support these groups: government must urgently look again at these to rescue the many excluded freelancers who are still clinging on through savings and loans. We believe government should particularly look at the Directors Income Support Scheme that has recently been proposed – to get support to this vital and so far forgotten group.”
15th December 2020.