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This report offers a new way of looking at self-employed wellbeing based on overall life satisfaction. 

It considers self-employed people’s overall life satisfaction, based on their subjective assessments of various aspects of their lives – including jobs, income, health, family life and leisure. The result is a view of self-employed wellbeing that does not just cover one facet of life, but offers a new, holistic perspective.  Using this approach, the report finds striking differences both between employees and the self-employed and also between different self-employed groups. 

Organised around the various life domains that affect overall life satisfaction, the report sets out comprehensive and targeted recommendations. They are to improve policy and business practice and help enhance the wellbeing of different self-employed groups.

Its key policy recommendations to improve self-employed wellbeing include: 

  • Abolish the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) or improve its extremely low uptake by offering accompanying training and mentoring – particularly confidence-building measures for people who are self-employed because of a lack of other employment opportunities. 
  • Create a more appreciative culture where business failures are seen as a normal part of entrepreneurial life, not as personal failures of the self-employed. This can be done by reforming bankruptcy regulation to allow for good faith business failures. 
  • Ensure better and faster access to mentoring when starting out and during business crisis periods to reduce stress and improve confidence in crucial times. This can be done by embedding mentoring in job centres. 
  • Increase confidence by improving access to skills-development resources tailored to the self-employed. The Treasury could also make skills development more cost-effective by extending tax allowances to cover new skills and by granting self-employed people training vouchers. 
  • Improve the long-term financial sustainability of the self-employed. The DWP and pension providers should introduce financial products and information about saving for later life that are specifically tailored to the self-employed. In particular, the ‘default’ or ‘sidecar’ model, where a portion of monthly earnings is automatically ‘defaulted’ to an accessible savings account.
  • Create more co-working spaces to combat the sense of isolation the self-employed often experience, allowing them to work together and also share insurances, childcare and other business-related services. This is something that can be achieved by Government, co-operatives and professional organisations working together to incentivise the creation of more spaces. 
  • Prioritise solutions that help reduce the stress caused by irregular cash flows. The banking industry should introduce self-employment-friendly banking services, as well as informational campaigns and online resources to promote existing funding and emergency credit initiatives.