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Self employed and happy

David Cameron commissioned Julie Dean OBE the founder of The Cambridge Satchel Company to carry out an independent review of what additional support could be provided to the growing number of self-employed people.

This could have been triggered by the concern that if the growth continues to be concentrated at the lower end of the income, then this could mean more people become eligible for the working element of tax credits, while the additional tax revenues that come with rising employment will be smaller.

The self-employed now account for 15% of the total UK workforce. At the start of 2016 there are an estimated 4.6 million people choosing to become self-employed.  According to research, 43% of self-employed people are now over 50 and 11% are under 30. The number of women choosing to become self-employed has grown. From 2009 women have accounted for more than half of the overall growth in the sector.

Recommendations following the review included:

  • Government should consider reviewing how well information on its official website signposts the self-employed to access the advice and support already available
  • More flexible mortgage solutions are needed for the self-employed, and trade organisations should play a key role in signposting these
  • The location and availability of shared work spaces should be better communicated, and consideration should be given to incorporating such spaces in local libraries and community centres


The reason for growth in the numbers of self-employed could be found in a study by think-tank Bright Blue. They found that self-employed people have much better levels of job satisfaction than employees.

Their report found that 80% of self-employed people were happy with their working life. This was even true for those who were classed as living in a ‘low income’ household, where the total earnings are less than 60% cent of the average household income.