IPSE research at the end of 2020 showed that there had been the first significant drop-off in self-employment in a decade with the number of solo self-employed in the UK falling by 5% compared to the previous year. Previously, this number had grown by 40% in eleven years. The sharpest falls among 18-29-year-olds (-11%), less highly skilled male self-employed (-11%) and disabled self-employed people (-8%). There was also a sharp drop among 40-49-year-olds (-7%).
Obviously, the Pandemic is the overwhelming cause for this and it will mask any underlying trends completely. However, this point is particularly interesting:
“…one in seven people in the sector (15%) said they became solo self-employed between 2019 and 2020. This equates to 591,000 people who would not have been able to access the government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). The fact that this and other significant groups such as sole directors of limited companies were excluded from government grants may have played a part in the enormous increase in self-employed people accessing Universal Credit. The number of solo self-employed accessing UC rose by 341% from 47,000 in 2019 to 206,200.”