Confidence among the self-employed workforce has increased dramatically, as most people are optimistic about their opportunities in 2019 and eager to reap the benefits of the latest technological advances, Kensington Mortgages has found.
There are currently around 4.85 million self-employed workers in the UK, making up 15% of the workforce, and 81,000 people chose to pursue self-employment over the course of 2018.
Craig McKinlay, new business director, Kensington Mortgages, said: “Considering wider economic and political uncertainty, it’s refreshing to see such optimism and open-mindedness among the UK’s self-employed workforce.
“Anyone who is self-employed could tell you that it’s never easy, especially when first starting out. This growing optimism though is a sign of changing times. Providing this vital group of the UK economy with the right financing needs to be a priority for the entire industry.
“Self-employed workers are keen to embrace the latest technology and it’s crucial that lenders do the same.
“By combining technology, big data and human underwriting, specialist lenders are able to gain a much better picture of self-employed workers and their unique circumstances, which makes it easier for these individuals to get the finance they need.”
Nearly two thirds (62%) of self-employed workers are confident that they will take on more work in 2019, an increase of 15% from last year’s figure of 47%. The unemployment rate among the self-employed is at its lowest level since 1975.
There was a reasonable degree of regionality, with self-employed workers in the North West feeling most confident (69%) that they will increase their workload in 2019.
The least confident workers are in Scotland, where only around half (54%) felt optimistic about their opportunities for work in 2019.
Almost nine in 10 (89%) self-employed workers believed new technology will have a positive impact on their business. Just 11% thought that technology will have a negative effect.
Interestingly, workers in Wales feel the most positive about the effect that technology will have on their business, with 96% expecting it to be a net positive over the next two years.
By contrast, workers in the North West are the least optimistic when it comes to how technology will impact their business, with 18% believing it will have a negative impact – the highest of any region.
Despite this, 82% of workers in the region still felt positive about the impact of technology, reflecting the overall optimism and tech-savviness of the UK’s self-employed workforce.
Of those total workers who believe technology will have a positive impact on their business over the next two years, 47% believed new tech will help them make more money, 44% thought it will greatly improve their day-to-day running of the business and 43% believed it’ll help them attract new business.