At Fair Business Loans we were very interested in a recent report by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). The aim of the RSA is to encourage opportunities for people to channel their creativity, to create both fulfilling lives for them and a flourishing society for everyone. Fair Business Loans endorses the work of the RSA and we see our role as providers of funding for small business as being part of the same ethos of supporting entrepreneurs in making their way in the business world.
Their report - entitled Boosting the Living Standards of the Self-Employed - recommends that new measures are needed to improve the living standards of the most vulnerable self-employed, with changes to National Insurance, Universal Credit, pensions and maternity and paternity pay being key priorities.
Self-employment can be a wonderful adventure that indeed does enable talented entrepreneurs to develop a way of life that channels their creativity in a positive direction. If successful it can lead to incredible satisfaction and allow the entrepreneur a measure of control over their work-life balance. However, for many small business owners this is not the case and life is a constant struggle. What can be done to support these entrepreneurs?
According to the report, the number of people in self-employment has grown by 40 per cent since 2000. There are now an estimated 14% of the workforce working for themselves and this trend shows no signs of decreasing. There have been recent government initiatives to support small business, such as the StartUp Loans scheme, the introduction of multiple tax breaks, and the abolition or amendment of around 3,000 regulations. Our recent blog on the last budget outlined the plans promised by the then Coalition government for small businesses.
But what about the individuals themselves? The people behind the businesses. The RSA project aimed to better understand how the overall well-being of the self-employed could be improved. It examined issues such as earnings, pensions, mortgages and welfare. For example, a major challenge facing the self-employed is their central role in the business and the lack of statutory help such as sick pay and maternity pay, should their circumstances need it. The recommended changes aim to boost such support to enable more people to be able to break into meaningful self-employment with the security of statutory back up when needed.
Now we are on the eve of a new parliament we will watch with interest how the new government reacts to these proposals and aims to make the option of entrepreneurial and fruitful self-employment a realistic one for all who are capable of achieving it.