‘Over 50’s account for nearly half of self-employed’

New analysis shows the extent to which the over 50’s are turning to self-employment.

Older Workers


The number of over 50s working for themselves accounted for 46 per cent of the UK’s entire self-employed workforce in the first three months of  2019, according to new research from Rest Less.

The over 50’s membership organisation’s analysis shows that there are now 2.27 million over 50’s who are self-employed – up from 1.45 million 10 years ago, an increase of 57 per cent in a decade.

Stuart Lewis, Founder of Rest Less, said: “Many people in their 50’s and 60’s can feel left behind and ignored from the workforce due to their age. For those who have had to take time out of their careers, perhaps to look after grandchildren or an elderly relative, it can be much harder than it should be to open doors back into the workplace.  Sadly, with age discrimination still alive and well, we are seeing more and more over 50’s finding they have no choice but to venture into the world of self-employment to make ends meet.”

The analysis also shows that:

  • In 2019, nearly one in five (19%) of the entire self-employed workforce is over 60
  • The number of over 60’s who are self-employed increased from 579,000 in 2009 to 949,000 in 2019  – an increase of 64%
  • The total number of self-employed individuals has increased from 3.85 million to 4.92 million in the last 10 years. Of this 1.1 million increase, 820,000 is amongst those over 50 – nearly 4 in 5 of them or 77%

Lewis added: “Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom with many well funded boomers choosing to set up their own businesses for the love of doing so, whether consulting, a passion project or to be the next success story on dragons den. At a time in life when the kids have moved out and the mortgage is perhaps a little smaller, many are finding that they have the luxury of choice for the first time. ”

Patrick Thomson, Senior Programme Manager, Centre for Ageing Better, said: “With a rising state pension age and more of us needing to work for longer to support our longer lives, self-employment can offer opportunities for flexible, fulfilling and rewarding work.

“While many people choose self-employment as a way of offering more flexibility and choice, others might be turning to self-employment due to barriers in the job market like ageism or a lack of opportunities for progression.

“While self-employment can be a great option for many people in the later part of their working lives, particularly because of the flexibility it offers, self-employed people risk missing out on some of the key benefits of working for an employer, such as employer pension contributions, support for a health condition or carers leave. Official statistics show that 45% of self-employed people aged 35 to 54 have no private pension wealth. It is crucial then that  people in this position plan and prepare for how their circumstances might change in later life.”

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