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New survey reveals that almost half of the UK would like to be self employed


A survey of the UK’s aspiring contractors has revealed that the financial aspects of self-employment are causing Brits to think twice about going it alone – after a dramatic increase in self-employed Brits between 2008 and 2012 according to the Office for National Statistics.

10,000 people across Britain were asked if they’d considered self-employment, and which aspects of the shift they found the most daunting – with money matters being the key cause for concern.

The study found that overheads and over-working are the main reasons ambitious Brits are concerned about quitting their day jobs. 

47% of participants considered the lack of stable income the ultimate obstacle to starting their own limited company, despite a City AM report that Britain’s SMEs generate a yearly turnover of over £1 trillion – one third of the UK’s overall business turnover.

Over 25% of those surveyed were daunted by the prospect of funding, in spite of the range of government schemes in place – while a significant 17% of respondents were put off by the idea of managing their own finances.

Generation Y

One resounding outcome of the survey by Intouch Accounting saw more than half of under-35s reveal they’d like to be their own boss – suggesting that entrepreneurial spirit is strong among generation Y.

This is reflected in the ongoing drop in the average age of Intouch Accounting’s own client base – now at 39 and trending downwards, month by month, as new clients come on board.

Women below the age of 35 were the most passionate when it came to the prospect of self-employment – with a staggering 60% of younger women across the UK stating that they’d consider taking the leap.

Over half of female respondents between 18 and 35 cited the lack of stable income as their number one cause for concern when it came to the reality of setting up – while less than 10% of these women considered the prospect of working unsocial hours to be a deal-breaker.

Burdens of business ownership

According to the study, it isn’t just the finances Britain’s would-be entrepreneurs are afraid of – as the responsibilities and stresses associated with self-employment scooped a hefty 24% of the vote.

On top of that, 16% of participants were apprehensive when it came to the prospect of forfeiting their existing job benefits – and over 13% of those surveyed were discouraged by the idea of working long hours.

Recent data from Groupon revealed that over a third of British adults either run their own enterprise or are planning to go self-employed – with the freedom of being their own boss cited as the number one motivation.

But with independence comes responsibility – and it appears that this professional freedom is actually the greatest deterrent for many of Britain’s aspiring contractors.

Paul Gough, Managing Director at Intouch Accounting, said: "I think the survey results prove the UK flexible workforce is here to stay.

"40% of the population surveyed and more than half of generation Y are entrepreneurial - that's great news!

"When the government shows its true colours and gets behind the UK contractor, reducing the uncertainty about the future of this invaluable part of the economy, this figure will undoubtedly increase.

"Predictability of income can be improved by clarity of voice and action from HMRC and I welcome that."

Topline results:

Would you ever consider being self-employed?

  • Yes: 39.5%
  • No: 60.5%

What puts you off being self-employed?

  • Lack of stable income: 47.2%
  • Securing start-up funding: 25.3%
  • Too much responsibility / stress: 24.4%
  • Managing business finances: 16.8%
  • Losing existing job benefits: 15.9%
  • Long working hours: 13.3%
  • Other: 5.1%
Source: Intouch Accounting

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Paul Gough

Paul Gough is the Managing Director of Intouch, which is a specialist provider of accounting and tax solutions to UK contractors and freelancers trading through Personal Service Companies.

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