The Labour Party Conference in Brighton was held in September with a great degree of excitement considering the resurgence of party membership in the post-election period. In line with the most recent policy developments, including the decision to remove Uber’s licence in the city of London, issues relating to self-employment, work exploitation and the gig economy were among those dominating the event agenda.

The CRSE was invited to join a panel including Peter Dowd MP, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Nita Clarke OBE, Director of the IPA, Liam Byrne MP, shadow Minister for Digital and Simon McVicker, IPSE’s Director of Policy, to discuss how we can make sure modern employment practices benefit all involved in the labour market. Despite the panellists’ differing experiences and background, all were united by the goal of ensuring that self-employment remains a positive goal for all.

On the one hand, Peter Dowd MP, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, re-emphasised concerns on false self-employment and the ambiguous legislation regarding self-employment rights.

On the other hand, however, Nita Clarke OBE, Director of IPA, underlined the fact that the vast majority of self-employed individuals cherish their work-related flexibility and therefore they should not be viewed as a homogenous group of people.

In line with this argument, Nigel Meager, Director at the Institute for Employment Studies and representative for the CRSE, presented fresh data from the soon to be launched CRSE’s research report on the segmentation of the self-employed workforce in the UK.

Meager revealed that the research has identified nine segments of the self-employed workforce, distinguished by three key indicators – income/economic wellbeing, independence and security. The segments range from low-paid, dependent and insecure, through to high-paid, independent and secure, and thus help to tackle a number of public policy challenges arising from false self-employment and the exploitation of vulnerable workers.

This years’ Labour Party conference showed that the self-employed are being increasingly recognised as a pivotal part of the UK’s labour market and the regulation of this growing sector is a political priority.

This is encouraging as we eagerly await the results of the CRSE’s segmentation research due mid-Autumn. The research provides an examination of the self-employed workforce’s constituent parts, and demonstrates that differentiated policy interventions are required that ensure there is support for those who need it, without negatively impacting the rest of the UK’s burgeoning self-employed community.