THE NUMBER of self-employed people in Worcestershire has risen by 34 per cent since the financial crisis, it has been revealed.
New figures published by the Office of National Statistics shows an estimated 45,300 people in Worcestershire were self-employed in 2014/15 – equating to 15.7 per cent of the working population.
The total is up from 33,800 before the recession in 2007/2008, as more people turned to working for themselves.
Worcestershire has also bucked the national trend as the numbers have grown by 4,500 in the last 12 months, while self-employment fell from its peak slightly across the UK.
Sajid Javid, MP for Bromsgrove, said: “It’s exciting and encouraging news more people are setting up their own businesses in Worcestershire.
“This makes it all the more important the Government continues to cut red tape and backs an economy in which entrepreneurs can thrive and grow towards that landmark step of taking on their first employee.”
The statistics were highlighted by Business Debtline, the free debt advice service run by the Money Advice Trust, to warn of a worrying ‘advice gap’ for people starting up their own business.
It claims many self-employed people get into difficulty because they started trading without the help needed to understand how to run a business and keep finances on track.
A total of 203 sole traders, partners and other small business owners in the county contacted Business Debtline for help with business debts by phone last year.
Coun Peter McDonald, leader of Worcestershire County Council’s Labour group, said he was concerned with the amount of support available for new business owners.
“We need to make sure these new start ups get the support and help they need to make sure they get over that two-year hurdle,” he said.
“A vast majority of small businesses never see two years as a great deal go under after one year.
“So yes it is good news that more and more people are coming off the unemployment list and taking the plunge themselves. But what we must do is support them to keep going and quite honestly we are lacking that.”