From the top · 24 September 2015

The Cambridge Satchel Company founder launches survey for UK’s self-employed workers

Julie Deane started The Cambridge Satchel Company from her kitchen table and turnover is now over £10m
Julie Deane started The Cambridge Satchel Company from her kitchen table and turnover is now over £10m

David Cameron appointed The Cambridge Satchel Company founder Julie Deane to carry out an independent review into self-employment back in July, and as part of that, she has launched a nationwide survey for those who work for themselves to have the chance to affect future legislation relating to them.

Deane has created the survey and will be going through the results to present useful recommendations that can be implemented effectively. She said: “I am keen to hear a wide range of views from as many people and as many different sectors as possible. Whatever your occupation or business model, if you work for yourself, I want to hear about your experiences and what could have helped.”

She hopes the survey will both “shine a light” on the self-employed numbers within the UK and flag up challenges people encountered when starting out and trying to grow their business. “As business owners, we have all come across hurdles that have struck us as frustrating – either because a simple issue has been over complicated or, given technology today, it seems that the information that would have helped us should have been more readily available,” Deane added.

The survey is aimed to take less than 20 minutes and Deane stressed that participants didn’t need to answer every question if they just wanted to draw attention to a few key points. You can take part in the questionnaire until November 8 2015.

Deane was asked to carry out an independent review by the prime minister earlier this year, and the feedback she receives on the questionnaire will be included to help provide a voice to the UK’s self-employed population and what issues they face.

She also wanted to make clear the survey hoped to encompass the range of those who fit under the self-employment umbrella. “I’m not just talking about the tech startups – this is for everyone from plumbers to accountants to beauticians who work for themselves.”

Questions include:

  • Do you see your business as a separate entity to you as an individual?
  • Are you a member of any organisation or body representing the self-employed?
  • Looking back, is there anything that would have been helpful that you wished you had known e.g. a resource that you have found useful that you didn’t know about at the time?

The ONS said one in seven working people are self-employed, – equating to to 4.5m, while self-employment has accounted for over a quarter of the growth in employment since 2010.

The government hopes the report that emerges from Deane’s review will allow those who feel they have been let down or not catered for effectively by the current system, to have a say on what they feel they need.

“This review will encompass not only legislative issues but equally as important, it will look at practical issues,” Deane added. In her experience starting The Cambridge Satchel Company, she found it was the practical side of things that often “made the difference”, such as better ways to source packaging.

Since starting her business in 2008 with £600, Deane’s company now turns over £10m a year and employs over 130 people.

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Rebecca is a reporter for Business Advice. Prior to this, she worked with a range of tech, advertising, media and digital clients at Propeller PR and did freelance work for The Telegraph.

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