Responding to the independent review published today by businesswoman Julie Deane, the national charity says many of the suggestions would help tackle some of the issues facing self-employed people identified by its research, such as not knowing where to go for help and problems getting finance.
Citizens Advice also welcomes the recommendation of enhanced maternity pay and the introduction of an adoption allowance for self-employed people, and would like to see this parity with employees extended to self-employed fathers, who currently receive no paternity pay.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“Many of this review’s recommendations will be music to the ears of self-employed people.
“Self-employed people tell us about about challenges they face, such as getting advice and guidance when they start out working for themselves, as well as the lack of availability of flexible finance options – such as loans or mortgages – which work for for them. It is great to see Julie Deane’s review echo many of these points and we hope that the Government will give her recommendations serious consideration.
“In particular enhancing maternity allowance would be a real boost for self-employed women when they have a baby and, given that over two thirds of self employed people are men, there is also an opportunity for government to consider similar support for fathers by giving them the same paternity pay as employees.”
In December 2015 research by Citizens Advice found three in five full-time self-employed parents (63 per cent) take less than seven days off after their baby is born, compared with two in five (43 per cent) employed parents.
For the first six weeks after her child is born a woman who is employed usually receives statutory maternity pay at a rate of 90 per cent of her usual pay. But currently a self-employed mother with a new baby can only claim maternity allowance which for most women is paid at a fixed rate and does not reflect their usual income. Deane’s review calls on the Government to consider increasing the maternity allowance paid to self-employed people for the first six weeks, bringing it into line with the statutory maternity pay that employees receive.
Since 2011 the proportion of people turning to local Citizens Advice for help who are in work and self-employed has increased by 50 per cent. Over half of those asking for advice on self-employment issues earn below the national minimum wage for a 35 hour week and most commonly have debt, employment and benefit problem.