Self-employed workers in the UK up by 23 per cent in past decade Coffee meeting

Independents' Day: 23 per cent surge in self-employed workers in last decade

  • The number of self-employed workers in the UK has increased by 23 per cent in the past decade
  • In the last year, the number of self-employed workers rose by 478 a day
  • More than two thirds (68 per cent) of employers don‘t hire contractors involved in consultancy work without professional indemnity cover

London, 04 April 2017: New analysis from business insurance provider Direct Line for Business shows that the number of self-employed workers in the UK has increased from 3.8 million to nearly 4.7 million in the past decade, a rise of 23 per cent1.

In the last year alone, the amount of self-employed workers increased by 174,000 - or 478 every day of the year. This section of the workforce now represents one in seven UK employees (15 per cent), contributing to increased competition for contracted work.

Of the 4.8 million businesses in the UK, the vast majority (91 per cent) hire contractors2 for various projects. Almost a third (31 per cent) of business owners said they had hired contractors frequently, demonstrating some very positive job prospects for the nation‘s consultants.

The majority of these businesses (68 per cent) require their contractors to have professional indemnity (PI) cover to perform consultancy services for the company, while a fifth (21 per cent) say it would depend on the type of work they would be undertaking for the firm. Nearly a fifth of business owners require the consultants to have PI to cover over £1 million, with a further 34 per cent (1.83 million businesses) expecting anything from £100,000 to £1 million. The average level of PI cover expected is £715,000.

Jane Guaschi, Business Manager at Direct Line for Business said: ”An increase in the number of self-employed workers over the last few years means that competition among contractors can be a challenge. A contractor who doesn‘t have the right PI insurance in place is doing themselves a disservice, as this analysis suggests it‘s an important factor for businesses hiring contractors.

”Aside from the employment implications, professional indemnity insurance is an important factor for anyone offering advice or professional services. It can cover individuals and businesses for a range of risks such as if a client claims there‘s a problem with any work which has led to financial loss or caused reputational damage. It‘s also vital for anyone who has access to sensitive information or might infringe intellectual property rights.“

For further details on Direct Line for Business Professional Indemnity Insurance, visit professional indemnity insurance.

Notes to editors

1 Direct Line for Business analysis of ONS employment data. Table EMP01: Full-time, part-time and temporary workers: People by Full-time, part-time and temporary workers (seasonally adjusted), published 19th October 2016.

2 Research conducted by Atomik among 101 UK-based HR decision makers in September 2016.

For further information please contact:

Citigate Dewe Rogerson
Antonia Green
Tel: 020 7282 2967

Direct Line for Business
Jade Trimbee
PR Manager
Tel: 01372 839 452
Mobile: 07825 315 931

Direct Line for Business

Launched in 2007 Direct Line for Business provides a range of insurance products for the small business sector direct by phone and online.

Direct Line for Business insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line for Business and U K Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line for Business products or get a quote by calling 0345 301 4827 or visiting

Small Business Insurance Press Release

Last Updated: 04 Apr 2017