Number of self-employed workers surges in last decade

The number of self-employed workers in the UK has increased by 23 per cent in the past decade, rising on average 478 a day.

New analysis from business insurance provider Direct Line for Business shows that the number of self-employed workers in the UK has increased from 3.8 million to nearly 4.7 million in the past decade, a rise of 23 per cent.

In the last year alone, the amount of self-employed workers increased by 174,000 – or 478 every day of the year. This section of the workforce now represents one in seven UK employees (15 per cent), contributing to increased competition for contracted work.

The vast majority (91 per cent) of UK businesses hire contractors for various projects. Almost a third (31 per cent) of business owners say they had hired contractors frequently, demonstrating some very positive job prospects for the nation’s consultants.

The majority of these businesses (68 per cent) require their contractors to have professional indemnity (PI) cover to perform consultancy services for the company, while a fifth (21 per cent) say it would depend on the type of work they would be undertaking for the firm.

Nearly a fifth of business owners require the consultants to have PI to cover over £1 million, with a further 34 per cent (1.83 million businesses) expecting anything from £100,000 to £1 million. The average level of PI cover expected is £715,000.

Jane Guaschi, business manager at Direct Line for Business says, ‘An increase in the number of self-employed workers over the last few years means that competition among contractors can be a challenge. A contractor who doesn’t have the right PI insurance in place is doing themselves a disservice, as this analysis suggests it’s an important factor for businesses hiring contractors.

‘Aside from the employment implications, professional indemnity insurance is an important factor for anyone offering advice or professional services. It can cover individuals and businesses for a range of risks such as if a client claims there’s a problem with any work which has led to financial loss or caused reputational damage. It’s also vital for anyone who has access to sensitive information or might infringe intellectual property rights.’

Further reading on self-employed

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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