Rise of the micro-entrepreneur

www.nesta.org.uk/feature/what-will-uk-collaborative-economy-look-2025/rise-of-the-micro-entrepreneur/
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From odd jobs to ridesharing, more people sell their skills and time on collaborative platforms. For some, this activity supplements a steady income. For those unemployed (and underemployed), small tasks and work activity through collaborative platforms constitute their primary source of income.

As more people enter micro-entrepreneurship, precarious and piece work becomes increasingly commonplace. Increased competition among micro-entrepreneurs sparks bidding wars that consistently descend below minimum wage.

The government raises the limit for non-taxable income, yet income tax evasion becomes more prevalent. Unemployed people are encouraged to join collaborative platforms, but risk losing benefits if deemed too successful.

The Numbers

  • Since 2000, the number of businesses established with no employees and operating under the VAT registration turnover threshold of around £80,000 has almost doubled to around 2.7 million.
  • The number of people who declare themselves to be self-employed (including owner-managers and other forms of trading outside an employee structure) is currently the highest it has ever been – 15 per cent of the workforce, or 4.6 million people.
  • The rate of self-employment will likely increase as awareness spreads so that one in four of the workforce will not be employees in the next decade.
  • At present, workers on average state they would like to work an additional 12 hours a week – equivalent to an extra 43 million hours across the economy as a whole.