Labour plans to give rights for self-employed workers
Reporter: Lucy Kenderdine
Date published: 16 November 2016
DEBBIE ABRAHAMS MP
LABOUR party plans to create equality in the social security system for Greater Manchester's 27,000 self-employed workers have been revealed by Oldham MP Debbie Abrahams.
In a major initiative, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary has committed Labour to creating equality in the social security system between the self-employed and employees.
With nearly five million self-employed people in the UK today, 15 percent of the UK workforce, Labour has identified significant gaps in the national insurance framework that creates long-term issues.
Unlike employees, the self-employed are not able to access important elements of the social security system such as sick pay, paternity pay, contributory jobseekers or support in the event of an accident at work.
With self-employment rising and evidence of lower pension savings among the self-employed, the party have argued that action is needed to prevent a serious challenge to the long term sustainability of pension provision. In her speech, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary and MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth Debbie Abrahams, said: "In so many ways self-employment is characteristic of both the opportunities and the challenges faced by our society.
"It brings to the individual a combination of great freedom with great risk, an ability to build one's own enterprise or to work flexibly around other priorities, it can offer great prosperity for some, but poverty pay for others.
"We have a huge opportunity to change the way we work, harnessing digital communication to make a living in a way that suits each of us."
Mrs Abrahams set out five tests on how Labour will address these issues for the self-employed; tests of adequacy, fairness, equality, responsibility, and respect for the existing principles in our social security system.
She said: "The Tories are looking to expand the role that private insurance plays in the social security system, and indeed in our health service too. This would create political opportunities for continued attacks on the safety net which belongs to us all.
"Labour will never let that happen.
"Only Labour can be trusted to transform our social security system, and ensure that, like the NHS, it remains there for us all in our time of need, including the self-employed."
The average income for self-employed people in Greater Manchester is £18,200 compared with a £23,600 average income for employed people.