The latest labour market statistics suggest that self-employment growth in the UK is slowing down after a long period of sustained growth in the number of people that work for themselves.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that while there are 415,000 more people in work today compared to this time last year, the level of self-employment has not changed.
Also this week, the Centre for Entrepreneurs has highlighted the fact that the number of start-ups launched in 2017 fell more than 10% compared to the year before. This is the first drop in business launches since 2010, according to the ONS.
The slowdown in self-employment should "ring alarm bells for the Government", said Tom Purvis, economic policy advisor at IPSE, the professional body for freelancers. IPSE has identified a number of key factors that are putting pressure on self-employed workers - including changes to tax rules and the introduction of Universal Credit.
Purvis said: "Self-employed people are facing many challenges at the moment, not least because of problems with Universal Credit. This flawed system is leaving self-employed people up to £3,000 a year worse off than employees earning the same money. This is just one of the areas where the Government should be striving to create a better environment for the self-employed."
Jordan Marshall, IPSE's policy development manager said: "At root, the issue is that UC actively penalises the self-employed for having a volatile income. Despite earning the same over the course of a year, a self-employed person can end up £3,000 worse off than an employee … This system of monthly assessment simply does not work for the self-employed who often have uneven income across a year."
IPSE has also warned that the new rules regarding IR35 status mean that many self-employed contractors are now being taxed as if they are employees.
Marshall said: "Whether it's IR35, National Insurance, Making Tax Digital or Universal Credit, there seems to be a wilful lack of understanding of what it means to be self-employed. As well as hitting individuals who want the freedom to work for themselves, this approach also hurts the UK economy which benefits hugely from the flexible expertise that the self-employed deliver."