Self employed struggle: one in four considering stopping being self-employed due to current financial uncertainty

POSTED: 6th September 2021
IN: Newsroom
  • Over half (51%) of those self employed in the UK think their financial situation has become worse over the past year
  • Three in five (59%) say their monthly earnings have decreased since the pandemic began, with two in five (41%) believing they will not get back to their pre-Covid earnings anytime soon
  • Two in five (38%) less confident about their business’s future since the pandemic began
  • Many remain vulnerable to future shocks with one third (33%) not having enough savings to last 3 months if they find themselves out of work

New research from Aldermore bank1 explores the struggles many self employed workers are feeling but also revealing the resilience and entrepreneurial spirit of many in the sector.

Long recovery period ahead for the self employed

The financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been blunt and potentially long lasting for the self employed, as many are still struggling to rebuild back their business to where it was pre-pandemic. Over half (51%) of those self employed in the UK think their financial situation has become worse over the past year, with over a third (34%) applying for government support and one quarter of self employed home owners requesting a mortgage holiday period during the past 12 months to get by.

Additionally, many do not see conditions changing any time soon with three in five (59%) saying their monthly earnings have decreased since the pandemic began and two in five (41%) anticipate they will not get back to their pre-Covid earnings anytime soon.

This has led to one in four (23%) self employed workers in the UK saying conditions have gotten so difficult that they are considering stopping being self employed altogether.

Adversity breeds innovation

While economic conditions remain difficult, our research also shows a great sense of resilience and ingenuity within the self employed sector, with nearly half (46%) of the self employed in the UK saying they have adapted their business to help them stay afloat, whilst over one in ten (13%) have utilised this time to completely change their business model.

This was particularly true of the younger generation (18 to 35 year olds) with nearly a quarter (23%) of this age group completely changing their business model. Furthermore, within this age group, a third (34%) were more confident about the future of their business and one in four (23%) said they were personally financially better off than a year ago.

Future planning remains difficult

With further uncertainty likely ahead, many of the self employed in the UK remain vulnerable to future shocks. One third (33%) say they do not have enough savings to last three months if they find themselves out of work. Non-Covid related financial issues remain a concern also with nearly a third (29%) believing Brexit will have a negative effect on their business, with 10% believing it will have a positive effect.

Furthermore, fulfilling dreams such as buying a home continues to hold barriers with only one in nine (14%) having a consistent income month-to-month making it difficult to secure mortgages with high street lenders.

Jon Cooper, head of mortgage distribution at Aldermore said:

“The self employed sector make up a significant proportion of the workforce and is a breeding ground for innovation and advancement in many industries, so they will play an important part in the UK’s economic recovery post-Covid. The self employed are often fulfilling a life’s dream in creating their business, and some of the biggest companies in the world like Amazon and Facebook started as small start-ups, so it is crucial this entrepreneurial spirit is supported by government and lenders through these tough times and for whatever future life plans they have.

“For the self employed that may feel pessimistic about their future home buying prospects after this difficult period, there are options available to help. It’s important to seek advice from a broker who can provide whole of market experience and to explore specialist lenders options, as they function to dig into the detail of an applicant that may have complicated income streams lifting traditional barriers to getting on the housing ladder.” 

Aldermore’s top tips for the self-employed:

  1. Consider using a broker: The home buying journey can be a complicated journey so having an experienced guide throughout can make all the difference. Brokers have whole-of-market experience so can outline all the options available to fit an applicant’s individual circumstances. 
  2. Evidence two-three years of accounts: Lenders will typically ask to look at two to three years’ worth of accounts, as proof you have a good level of income. Since Covid-19, it is also important to show your business has recovered to pre-pandemic levels to instil confidence in the lender you can meet mortgage repayments.
  3. Get your accounts in order: You will need to provide documentation to prove your income, which will vary depending on the lender. Making sure you know which documents lenders will ask of you and having this to hand will save time and help speed up the process.
  4. Evidence a steady stream of work: To prove that you’re a reliable borrower, it’s important to demonstrate a steady stream of work that has been maintained over time. It is equally important to show a strong pipeline of upcoming work to reassure lenders.
  5. Improve your credit profile: There are many ways to boost your credit profile. Simple steps such as registering on the electoral roll, paying off debts and meeting regular payments will over time make a difference.
  6. Save a bigger deposit: Having a bigger deposit will better your chances of securing a mortgage and demonstrate you aren’t a risk to lend to. Review your monthly expenditure to see where you can afford to cut back and put towards saving for a deposit and utilise fixed term savings accounts to benefit from a more favourable interest rate.


Notes to editors:

1 Research conducted, on behalf of Aldermore bank, by Opinium in May 2021, with a sample size of 1,000 self-employed adults.

For further information, journalists can contact our PR Team.

For further information about Aldermore, please review our Notes to Editors page.                      

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