The number of self-employed people over 65 has more than doubled in the past five years to reach nearly half a million. Self-employed people tend to be older, with an average age of 47, compared with an average of 40 among employees.
“These figures nail the myth perpetuated by ministers that the UK’s new self-employed workers are all young entrepreneurs. In fact, almost half are over the age of 50.
“It’s great that older people are using self-employment to stay working and earning as they approach and even pass their state pension age, even if many are doing this because they can’t afford to retire.
“But it’s worrying that much of the recent increase is due, as the ONS says, to the limited opportunities for people to move out of self-employment.
“It’s not hard to see why some people would want to stop being self-employed as their average income has collapsed in recent years. The latest assessment of earnings from self-employment is £207 a week, less than half that of employees. They also don’t receive any sick or holiday pay, nor do they have an employer contribute towards their pension.
“Self-employment appears to be a key factor in the UK economy’s shift towards low-paid work. Many people want to work for themselves. But the growth in self-employment is reducing people’s pay, job security and retirement income – and is likely to be reducing the government’s tax take too.”