Addressing inclusivity in the spatial and social impacts of COVID-19 on the self-employed in the UK

  • Researchers: Dr Darja Reuschke (University of Southampton)
  • Research partners: Prof Andrew Henley (Cardiff University); Prof Elizabeth Daniel (Open University)
  • Funding body: UK Research Innovation (UKRI) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • Project status: Current

The UK's flexible labour market model has produced high levels of self-employment. The self- employed are predominant in those sectors most hit by shutdown and distancing measures. This study is to provide a systematic identification and understanding of the disparate spatial, social and economic impacts of COVID-19 on the self-employed in the UK using secondary analysis of nationally representative UK survey data and qualitative interviews with self-employed people focussing on coping strategies and experiences with the Self-employed Income Support Scheme.

This study will provide a systematic identification and understanding of the disparate spatial, social and economic impacts of COVID-19 on the self-employed in the UK. We will produce a series of reports that will be made available widely to inform small business and self-employed stakeholders and the public on the impact of the crisis on the self-employed – an important element of the UK economy. The first milestone, during the first three months of the project, is a report on what happened to the self-employed during the first two month of lockdown. Using a sample of almost 1,500 self-employed individuals, this report will focus on the impact on their earnings and hours worked. A second milestone, after six months into the project, will be reports on the spatial impact on self-employment and on the uptake and impact of the Self-employment Income Support Scheme. A third milestone, after 12 months, is a publication of findings on the resilience of the UK self-employed with a special focus on gender. In the last six months of the project, we will summarise findings from interviews with the self-employed. The fourth milestone will be a report on how the self-employed coped with the economic shock caused by the coronavirus outbreak. We will also organise a conference with participants, both from the UK and internationally, to discuss our findings and their consequences for policy. A final report will summarise recommendations for economic policy, regionally and nationally, informed by our findings and inputs from experts in the field. The project will be funded until the 7th January 2022.

More information

Please contact Darja Reuschke, d.reuschke@soton.ac.uk