Self-employed under pressure from ‘advice gap’, charity warns

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A lack of business support is compounding the financial pressures faced by the self-employed, a charity has warned.

Business Debtline, a service run by charity Money Advice Trust, said the financial crisis had resulted in a surge of self-employment, but support services had not grown at the same rate.

It comes as figures from the Office for National Statistics show North Yorkshire bucked the national trend of falling self-employment last year, with an extra 10,200 launching their own ventures.

The number of people working for themselves in the are has risen 31 per cent since 2008, to 87,400 in 2014/15.

Almost one in five (17.5 per cent) of North Yorkshire’s working population are now self-employed.

Many self-employed people get into difficulty because they started trading without accessing advice on how to run a business and keep finances on track, Business Debtline said.

Last year, 377 sole traders, partners and other small business owners in North Yorkshire contacted the service after running into difficulty.

Research from the charity revealed more than a third of clients drew less than £100 income from their business each month, leading to difficulties with business and personal finances.

More than three quarters (76 per cent) had to cut down on household spending as a result.

Business difficulties had significant knock-on effects, with more than eight in 10 (82 per cent) affected by stress, anxiety or depression and more than half (54 per cent) suffering sleep loss.

Claire King, Money Advice Trust’s Insight Manager, said self-employed people were in many ways “the unsung heroes” of the UK’s economic recovery, but some are paying a high personal price for taking business risks.

She said: “We must do more as a society to give them the best chance of succeeding. We would like more to be done to widen access to the business advice and information at the outset of people’s journey into self-employment.

“This really can make the difference between triumph and disaster.”