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One in six freelancers have no savings

11 August 2020

A new study has found that 17% of self-employed workers have no financial buffer and less than one in ten have insurance to protect their income.

The research, conducted by the economics consultancy Cebr for insurer The Exeter, reveals that almost one-third of freelancers have very little money to fall back on in the event of a financial crisis.

The findings show that:

  • 17% of self-employed workers in the UK have no personal savings at all to fall back on;
  • A further 14% of self-employed workers have less than £2,000 in savings.

The latest Government figures show that over half of the five million self-employed workers in the UK have claimed for a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), with 2.7 million claims granted, worth a total of £7.8 billion.

Less than one in ten (9%) of self-employed workers protect their income through insurance. In fact, 65% of the UK adult population do not have any form of protection insurance in place.

The findings also show that a third (35%) of self-employed workers do not save anything at all in a typical month. Nearly four in ten (39%) of those aged 35-44 said they saved nothing per month, the highest of any age group, followed by 38% of respondents aged 45-54 and 33% of over-55s.

Despite the low level of saving among the self-employed, 52% of respondents said they would rely on their savings if they suffered a loss of income. However, 43% of all those polled said they save less than £50 per month.

Andy Chapman, ceo of The Exeter, said: "Self-employed and gig economy workers are a large part of the UK's labour market, representing 15% of the workforce. However, despite the benefits which being self-employed can bring, this type of labour can pose risks to an individual's financial situation if they are suddenly unable to work. Indeed, during the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak we saw many of these individuals face an income shortfall almost overnight as the UK went into lockdown.

"Half of self-employed workers in our survey said they would use their personal savings if they experienced a loss of income, despite a concerningly low level of savings among this group. However, what is perhaps more worrying is the significant level of underinsurance among this group, with just 9% of those surveyed saying they had income protection."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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