An independent review of self-employment in the UK is to be led by Julie Deane OBE, with the aim of discovering the challenges and opportunities facing those who wish to work for themselves.

Ms Deane, founder of the Cambridge Satchel Company, will report results of the review to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Accounting for a quarter of the UK’s growth in employment since 2010, self-employment is a major contributor to the country’s economy – something the review will highlight, while also examining what more can be done to support those who choose to go it alone. According to ONS figures this is one in seven people in employment - a total of 4.5 million individuals.

The review, which has three primary aims, sets out to:

  • explore why people opt to be self-employed as well as the different types of work that they carry out, including freelancing professionals, sole traders and those who are employed but also work for themselves

  • look into the challenges and issues faced by people who are self-employed, especially when setting up or developing their business

  • recommend how the UK can create a more flexible and supportive environment

The review will also look at what can be done to provide more security and peace of mind, for example, when juggling self-employment and having a family, buying a home or saving for retirement.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said: “The government is on the side of working people. As part of our aim to achieve full employment, we want to create an environment that supports people who want to work hard and strike out on their own and makes the UK the best place in Europe to start and grow a business.”

John Thompson, chief executive at APHC, said: “This is a Government review that we feel is very significant to plumbing and heating given the high number of self-employed people in the industry; the unique challenges faced by those who choose to work for themselves are ones we see our members coming up against every day. We therefore intend to participate fully in order to put forward relevant key messages on behalf of our members.

“With self-employed people making such a huge contribution to the UK economy, the government’s decision to review the support available to them is not simply a moral gesture – it makes good economic sense.”