20% of sole traders can't afford to create jobs

A survey suggests businesses want to take on employees - it's just too expensive, and too complicated to do it.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 27 Mar 2012
We know the Government is desperate to encourage businesses to create jobs, but what of the UK’s 3.8m sole traders – can they be persuaded to take someone on? It’s going to be a tough one, reckons a new survey by accountancy software maker Intuit UK – but it might just be possible if the Government makes a tweak or two to its priorities. Although we’re pretty sure we’ve heard that sort of thing before…

Apparently, there are 3.8m sole traders in the UK – 80% of which have no plans to take on employees, according to the survey. Now obviously, a certain amount of that is to be expected – the majority of sole traders probably have absolutely no need to take on help. But almost a third of businesses said they would like to give growth a go, if only the economy would improve.

That’s not the only reason, though. For 20%, it’s because hiring employees is a costly business – and they simply don’t have the cashflow to guarantee someone a regular wage. And for just over a quarter, red tape is the most off-putting factor: they’d rather avoid growth than run the bureaucratic gauntlet that is taking on someone for a job.

What about apprenticeships? They’ve been talked up heavily by the Government, with various policies to encourage employers to take on school and university leavers. Unfortunately, the effects have been limited: 75% of sole traders said they weren’t sure who to speak to about taking on an apprentice, while just over a quarter added that they hadn’t even heard about the Government’s campaign.

Of course, you can’t expect those who have absolutely no intention of taking someone on to have looked up the latest rules on apprenticeships. But considering how keen the Government is to get its schemes up and running, you’d hope people knew where to turn if they do want one.

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