A survey from LV= of the financial health of self-employed, part-time and contract workers has looked into the precarious nature of self-employed people’s finances.
If an accident or illness prevented them from working, 11% wouldn’t be able to last any time without using long-term savings, while 30% would run out of money in less than a month. 48% said they couldn’t turn to friends or family for financial support and one in 10 said they would be forced to turn to credit cards or payday loans.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the number of self-employed workers in the UK increased from 3.3 million in 2001 to nearly 5 million in 2019.
While 25% of those surveyed said they would seek help from the state, benefits provide little or no support for this group. Statutory Sick Pay isn’t available to self-employed workers, and for those workers that are eligible the maximum that can be claimed is just £94.25 a week versus the average outgoing of £262.83 a week for self-employed or contract workers.
55% have no life insurance, private medical insurance, critical illness cover or income protection should they find themselves unable to work due to illness or injury. Nearly half of those surveyed (45%) worry that sickness will prevent them working. They also worry about consistency of earnings (37%) and over a third (35%) of those workers who took time off for illness or injury last year returned to work before they felt they had fully recovered. 50% of these said they did so because they couldn’t afford to take any more time off work.
Justin Harper, head of protection marketing at LV=, said: “The world of work has changed enormously over the past 20 years. Being self-employed, freelance or working on a contract basis has become the norm for all sorts of professions from barristers to boat masters. Although it has many benefits, working for yourself means that the responsibility for providing a financial safety net shifts from the employer to the individual.
“People in full-time employment commonly receive sick pay and life insurance through their employer but self-employed people need to provide it for themselves. Although many self-employed people and contractors worry about the consequences of an accident or illness preventing them from working, too few are taking steps to protect themselves from any loss of earnings if they are unable to work.
“Many wrongly believe they would not be eligible for income protection but consulting a financial adviser will help them find a policy that best meets their needs.
“In 2018, LV= supported 2,500 people who were unable to work because of injury and long-term sickness. In one case, a self-employed computer based set designer successfully claimed on her income protection policy after experiencing severe back problems. We’ve also been in regular contact with her to make sure she has the right rehab support for her recovery, including additional physiotherapy when her NHS sessions end.”