Labour hit for downbeat view of self-employment

The UK ambassador for people who run their own business has hit out at the Labour Party for what he says is its inability to see the importance of self-employed people to the economy.

David Morris MP, appointed ‘contractor tsar’ late last year, spoke of being “sad” that Labour regards the rise of self-employment as a failure in the labour market.

Addressing other MPs, Mr Morris took issue with the opposition party’s 'A Better Plan for Britain's Prosperity,' which frames self-employment as a potential symptom of job insecurity.

The document, which sets out Labour's policies for business, states that "the rise of self-employment could in part be evidence of growing insecurity in the labour market."

Mr Morris countered: “The self-employment sector in this country accounts for 760,000 new businesses created since 2010, which shows that the country has an entrepreneurial spirit, with huge advantages for taxation.

“I hold out an olive branch to the opposition and ask them to embrace it, purely and simply because it is better for us all, irrespective of political party.”

In the document, Labour arrives at its assessment by pointing out that the number of self-employed people with second jobs has risen, as has the number of employees with second jobs.

The party’s comments, and the basis for its comments, has come as a blow to the UK’s contracting body IPSE, which says it has spent “a lot of time” engaging with Labour about one-person businesses.

“We believed there was a good narrative the Labour Party could have put forward to this backbone of the economy,” said the body, known as the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed.

“However we are deeply disappointed in their business manifesto for the election, which has not offered any encouraging or positive words about the phenomenal rise we have seen in self-employment over the last few years.

“Instead they have suggested it is down to a market failure, completely ignoring the vast majority of self-employed individuals that have chosen to work in this way. David Morris is absolutely right to call them out on this.”

But an olive branch was also held out by the body. “We still hope a shadow cabinet minister may say something positive in this area before 7th May,” said IPSE’s Simon McVicker.

He added: “The 4.5million self-employed are making a huge contribution to the economy and are a vital resource for UK businesses. We would like to know what Labour's policies are for this vital sector of the labour market.”

Mar 09, 2015