Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has committed his party to providing social security and reforms in taxation for Britain’s self-employed workers, using his speech at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool to highlight the “woeful lack of rights” for those who choose to work for themselves.
“As part of our Workplace 2020 review, we will make sure that and our tax and social security arrangements are fit for the 21st century, consulting with self-employed workers and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB),” Corbyn said.
Corbyn stated that a Labour government would provide freelancers and self-employed workers with the benefits of social security that they already contribute towards.
He said: “We will review arrangements for self-employed people including social security that self-employed people pay for in their taxes, yet aren’t fully covered by.”
Corbyn also touched on funding for enterprise in the conference speech, acknowledging the value of small firms to UK employment levels.
“We will ensure that successful innovators have access to the finance necessary to take their ideas to the next level grow their businesses and generate employment,” he said.
Mike Cherry, national chairman of the FSB, welcomed Corbyn’s pledge to improve self-employed working conditions.
“As the UK’s leading organisation for the self-employed, FSB is delighted the Labour Party has recognised current unfairness around the way the self-employed are treated, and that Jeremy Corbyn has invited us to take part in their review,” Cherry said in a statement.
Commenting on the speech, Simon McVicker, director of policy at The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), echoed Corbyn’s pledge to improve conditions and opportunities for freelance and self-employed workers, further pressing the government to respond to the employment choices of Britons.
“The tax system has yet to catch up with the way more and more people are choosing to work and needs radical reform to make it fit for the twenty first century. IPSE looks forward to engaging with Labour on these issues,” McVicker said.
Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that self-employment accounted for 15 per cent of the entire UK workforce in 2016 – an increase of 224,000 from 2015 to reach 4.76 million.
The trade-off between freedom and security in self-employment was illustrated by research carried out earlier this year by the FSB. Of the self-employed workers surveyed, 80 per cent believed independence at work to be one of the strongest benefits of working for yourself, while 44 per cent felt that the lack of sick-pay posed a major disadvantage.
Find out more about HMRC regulatory burdens that are hindering the success of freelancers in the UK.
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