Julie Deane, CEO of the Cambridge Satchel Company, has made ten recommendations along with her self-employment review, which was commissioned by David Cameron in July last year.

The self-employed in the UK now make up 15% of the workforce, numbering 4.6 million.  Self-employment has accounted for nearly half of the increase in total employment since the recession.

The review considers the obstacles and opportunities for people who work for themselves, and it makes the following recommendations:

  1. Education for young people to better prepare them for self-employment, in areas such as finance, cash flow, bookkeeping and taxation.
  2. Access to advice and support.  A central portal from which to access impartial support and services for the self-employed is vital.  The website gov.uk should be reviewed to see how well it signposts the self-employed to available resources.
  3. More flexible financial solutions should be made available, from mortgages and insurance to pensions, with improved signposting by trade organisations.
  4. Equal treatment and recognition from the government, and removal of discrepancies particularly for those starting or extending a family.  Maternity allowance should be brought in line with statutory maternity pay, and a new Adoption Allowance should be introduced in line with Statutory Adoption Pay.
  5. Lack of a legal definition of self-employment should be addressed to overcome the wide variety of individuals and sectors it applies to.  Simplification and clarification with a single definition for tax and employment law is desired.
  6. Over complicated legislation, which is costly to the government and burdensome to businesses, should be addressed in a clear and common-sensical manner.
  7. Impact Assessments which are carried out to calculate the impact that new policies will have on different sectors should be extended to include self-employment as one of these sectors.
  8. Although outside of the scope of the review, the government should look in detail at taxation which is an administrative burden, a barrier to growth, and an issue that could benefit from improved simplicity and better advice.
  9. The location and availability of shared work spaces should be better communicated, with increased visibility and accessibility to such spaces.  Spaces could be incorporated in libraries and community centres.
  10. Trade and professional organisations should take responsibility for keeping members up to date with technological advances.

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) have welcomed the review, saying “We hope the recommendations will be taken up by government, as they will change the lives of the nation’s self-employed for the better.”

David Cameron confirmed receipt of the review, and said that all ten recommendations would be “carefully considered” by the government. 

Julia Deane says that she is looking forward to the government’s reply over the coming months, suggesting that it may come as soon as the March Budget.

The report is entitled Self-employment review: an independent report and is published on the HMRC website, www.gov.uk.