Policymakers and business leaders must work to improve wellbeing among the self-employed, according to a new report by the Centre for Research on Self-Employment.
The report, ‘The Way to Wellbeing’, which is released on National Freelancers Day, adopts a new approach to wellbeing based on overall life satisfaction, including jobs, income, health, family life and leisure. Using this method it finds striking differences both between employees and the self-employed and also between different self-employed groups.
It recommends that the Government take several steps to improve self-employed wellbeing. They include:
Abolishing the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) or improving its extremely low uptake by offering accompanying training and mentoring – particularly confidence-building measures for people who are self-employed because of a lack of other employment opportunities.
Creating a more appreciative culture where business failures are seen as a normal part of entrepreneurial life, not as personal failures of the self-employed through reforming bankruptcy regulation to allow for good faith business failures.
Ensuring better and faster access to mentoring when starting out and during business crisis periods to reduce stress and improve confidence in crucial times through embedding mentoring in job centres.
Increasing confidence by improving access to skills-development resources tailored to the self-employed, extending tax allowances to cover new skills and granting self-employed people training vouchers.
Improving the long-term financial sustainability of the self-employed through tailored financial products and information about saving for later life.
Creating more co-working spaces to combat the sense of isolation the self-employed often experience, allowing them to work together and also share insurances, childcare and other business-related services.
Prioritising solutions that help reduce the stress caused by irregular cash flows such asself-employment-friendly banking services and informational campaigns and online resources to promote existing funding and emergency credit initiatives.
Martin Binder, Professor of Economics at Bard College Berlin and the report’s author, said: “Looking only at income or job creation when it comes to the self-employed experience is too narrow and can be misleading. Putting the overall life satisfaction of the self-employed centre stage gives us a much more comprehensive picture of how they are doing – beyond just their income. What, after all, is the point in encouraging more self-employment if people just end up more anxious, stressed-out and miserable?”