Recession leads to a million more self-employed

Nearly a quarter of all self-employed workers have been their own boss for less than two years, according to research carried out on behalf of Kensington.

The survey found that 24% of people who are self-employed have been so for less than two years.

Given that the research also found there are 5 million self-employed workers in the UK, this means that 1.2 million people have started working for themselves since March 2008, during which period the UK economy contracted for six consecutive quarters.

The research, which was carried out among more than 2,000 adults, found that 12%, or 600,000, self-employed workers have been their own boss for less than a year, with a further 600,000 having been self-employed for between 12 months and two years.

However, only 6% of self-employed workers became self-employed in the 12 months leading up to March 2008 – a period before the UK economy had begun to contract.

The survey also found that more than two thirds – 68% of self-employed workers have worked for themselves for more than three years.

Charles Morley, head of sales and product development at Kensington, says: “This research supports the anecdotal evidence that the number of self-employed workers increases during a recession when businesses reduce the number of permanent staff they employ.

“I’m sure we all know somebody who has harboured ambitions of being their own boss and only taken the opportunity to do so when their employer has started to make cut backs. Many of these people are now enjoying very successful businesses of their own but, because of the way some lenders process applications, they would find it very difficult to secure a mortgage.

”Kensington looks at things differently. Our underwriters look at a customer’s circumstances, not an automated credit score, which means we can make lending decisions for self-employed customers based on information that many lenders cannot process.”