Julie Deane OBE unveils UK self-employment review

Cambridge Satchel Company founder wants government to provide more flexible finance solutions, better advice, and more shared work spaces

Julie Deane OBE, founder and CEO of the Cambridge Satchel Company, has published the results of her independent review of UK self-employment and has called on government to make 10 key changes to recognise “the economic potential of the self-employed”.

Commissioned by David Cameron last year, the review calls for additional support to help the UK’s 4.6 million self-employed people and looks to better understand the challenges faced by freelancers and self-employed people.

As part of the research, Deane conducted interviews with self-employed people through an online survey and said she held “extensive discussions with every part of the sector”; “not just tech start-ups but farmers, construction workers, taxi drivers, hairdressers and artists”.

In an interview with Startups.co.uk in November last year, Deane explained that self-employment had “changed her life” and shared how she had turned an idea conjured up at her kitchen table with £600 savings into a £13m global company.

Deane’s 10 recommendations, which the government will now consider, include:

  1. Better education and skills training to prepare young people for the role which self-employment might play in their future.
  2. Improved access to advice and support, including the potential development of a central web portal for the self-employed.
  3. More flexible finance solutions such as mortgages, pensions and insurance.
  4. “Equal treatment and recognition” from the government for the self-employed. This would include extending the level of maternity allowance provided to the self-employed in the first six weeks to bring it in line with statutory maternity pay and a new ‘adoption allowance’ for self-employed adopters.
  5. Better legal definition of self-employment – Deane has asked for a simple, single definition for tax and employment law so as to avoid confusion.
  6. Improved self-employment legislation and administration.
  7. Impact assessments for the self-employed.
  8. A closer look at resolving tax issues for self-employed people and the “administrative burden” this tax brings.
  9. Increased accessibility to shared work spaces across the country; local libraries and community spaces should adapt under-utilised space into shared office space.
  10. Trade and professional organisations need to advocate new technology and software for the self-employed to their members.

Deane commented: “With record numbers representing 15% of the workforce and growing, the self-employed is a diverse and important sector. Having long been part of this group I wanted my recommendations to be both practical and impactful. I believe I have accomplished that.”

On the recommendations, the prime minister added:

“Up and down the country there are millions of hard-working self-employed people and I want to make sure they get all the support and security they need to achieve their ambitions.

“We’re already helping with tax allowances, start-up support and with our ongoing commitment to cutting red tape, and given Julie Deane’s experience of starting her own successful business, she was the ideal person to shine more light on the needs of self-employed people.

“I’d like to thank Deane for her hard work in delivering this review, and her wide-ranging recommendations will be carefully considered.”

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