Workers over 50 made up 45 per cent of all self-employed workers last year, according to new analysis from Rest Less, a jobs, money and lifestyle community for the over 50s. In 2019, there were 2.26 million over 50s in self-employment, a figure set to increase significantly this year says Rest Less founder, Stuart Lewis.

Rest Less conducted analysis on self-employment data from the Annual Population Survey which was released in April 2020 and was based on data taken over the course of 2019.

Rest Less’s analysis shows that in 2019, there were just under five million self-employed workers in the UK (4.97m) of which just over 2.26m were aged over 50.

In a poll of its job seeking members on their attitudes to self-employment*, Rest Less also found that 52 per cent of respondents said they were considering self employment, of which 46 per cent said they were doing so out of choice, 18 per cent out of necessity and 35 per cent said it was a mix of both.

Stuart Lewis, Founder of Rest Less, commented: “Whilst many older workers have freed themselves from the shackles of permanent employment to fulfil an entrepreneurial ambition, to work flexibly or to pursue a passion project, there is another side to the self-employment statistics, particularly post-Covid 19.

‘Many over 50s already find themselves at the back of the jobs queue, for no reason other than their age, and this is only going to get worse as unemployment levels rise post-pandemic. Our analysis has shown that the number of over 50s claiming universal credit has already soared by 93%* since the beginning of this year.

‘Some will have no choice but to take reluctant early retirement, some will be forced onto benefits for the first time, whilst others will try to make ends meet through self-employment where they can use their hard-earned skills without worrying about age discrimination in the recruitment process.”

Case Study Details: someone who has set up their own business after being put on furlough and then made redundant during the pandemic

Sandra Ackland is 50 and from Camber Sands in East Sussex. Sandra was put on furlough from her sales role in a promotional merchandise business in March and found out at the end of June that she was being made redundant.

Sandra has been seeing a life coach since last year and has undergone a number of big changes in her life. She’s been thinking about setting up her own business for a while but the timings haven’t been quite right and her confidence levels weren’t quite there either.

Whilst on furlough, she took the plunge and registered her business (the Brilliant Branding Company) – selling merchandise to consumers – starting with water bottles and personalised designs.

She has built a detailed business plan and has used a business coach to help her get to this point. She has invested in machinery to print the bottles (just under £2k) and is about to place a bulk order of at least £3.5k.

Sandra has a grown up daughter who lives at home with them who has Borderline Personality Disorder who finds it very difficult to stay in employment plus a highly functioning autistic step-son. She has a dream that both of them can work for her in due course.

More case studies available on request

Notes to Editors

Data is based on figures from the Annual Population Survey 2019, issued on 17 April 2020, which is based on 2018 based weights.

*122 respondents in July 2020

*According to data published by the Office of National Statistics, in January 2020 there were 304,800 Universal Credit claims amongst the over 50s. In July’s provisional data, the number of Universal Credit claims amongst the over 50s was 587,700 – an increase of 282,900.

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