Andrew Henley

Author

Andrew Henley is Professor of Entrepreneurship and Economics at Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University. He has published extensively on self-employment, small business growth and leadership, and on regional development. He is currently a member of the team delivering the ESRC’s Productivity Insights Network

Contact Details

Biography

Andrew Henley is Professor of Entrepreneurship and Economics at Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University. He has published extensively on self-employment, small business growth and leadership, and on regional development. He is currently a member of the team delivering the ESRC’s Productivity Insights Network

Insight

First findings on the impact of COVID-19 on self-employment in the UK – evidence from the Understanding Society household survey

The self-employed accounted for 15% of the UK workforce in 2019 and many of these worked in sectors particularly at risk in this unprecedent crisis (ONS, 2020a). Compared to most other European countries, the level and previous increase in self-employment in the UK makes for an exceptional case (Hatfield, 2015), and this makes the monitoring of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on self-employment particularly important for UK economic and social policy.

Associated Themes
  • COVID-19
  • Entrepreneurship
SOTA Review

Forms of self-employment: What do we know about the gig economy? SOTA Review No: 43

Self-employment takes a range of forms spanning business ownership, dependent contracting activity and freelancing. The term ‘gig economy’ is used increasingly to describe a range of freelancing activity in sectors such as construction, IT, transport services, and culture and media. Although definitions vary, there is general agreement that the growth in gig-working has been encouraged by the development of internet platforms such as Uber and Deliveroo, and the opportunity to adopt business models which support workforce ‘flexibilization’. The small body of research on ‘dependent’ self-employment over a longer period provides useful insights. However, research on the drivers and impacts of gig-working specifically is sparse, and at present provides little insight beyond describing the size and recent growth of the gig economy. A number of important evidence gaps remain. These include measurement of the sector and assessment of the strength of particular drivers. They also include the impact of employment regulation on the trade-off between the benefits of autonomy and flexibility and the costs of poor earnings and security. Finally further evidence is needed on the question of whether gig-working reflects economic opportunity or is a form of necessity entrepreneurship that crowds out well-performing business start-up.

Authors
Associated Themes
  • Entrepreneurship
Insight

Covid-19 and self-employment in the UK

In this short paper, we provide a preliminary assessment of the likely impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the self-employed, and in particular, using the most recently available UK Quarterly Labour Force Survey data, we provide an analysis of which groups and where the self-employed are most at risk of significant income loss and therefore household distress.
Because of time-lags in the publication of official labour force and business statistical data, it is still too early for us to assess with any degree of precision the impact of the crisis on the self-employment. Nevertheless, the sudden closure of businesses and tight social distancing restrictions on the movement of people in the attempt to slow down the spread of Covid-19 is having unprecedented effects on employment and businesses activity. Employment and self-employment in non-food personal and domestic services is directly affected since customers are required to stay at home except for essential shopping for food and medical supplies, and where possible work from home, and so no longer permitted to use these services.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies identifies sectors that are directly affected by the lockdown: non-food, non-pharmaceutical retail; passenger transport; accommodation and food; travel; childcare; arts and leisure; personal care and domestic services (Joyce and Hu, 2020). The sector-specific employment risk coincides with specific job and worker characteristics with young people and women being predicted to be hit hardest by the lockdown. Age and gender effects are further associated with low income jobs and part-time workers. Hence, the employment effect of Covid-19 is associated with a stark level of social inequality.
However, predictions about which workers are hardest hit by the crisis (Joyce and Hu, 2020; Kitsos, 2020), included only those in paid employment.
We provide here a corresponding analysis for the self-employed.

Associated Themes
  • COVID-19
  • Entrepreneurship
SOTA Review

Self-employment and Local Growth. SOTA Review No 23

Rapid growth in self-employment in some economies, of which the UK is a notable example, has raised the salience of whether growing self-employment (SE) contributes to economic growth and regional development (RD). The UK experience is that self-employment growth is not spatially uniform (Henley, 2017), and so this question is often framed in terms of local economic benefits. While researchers typically argue that SE is an indicator of entrepreneurialism, higher SE also raises concerns about the growth of employment casualization and the gig economy (Taylor, 2017). Nevertheless, more prosperous locations, such as in and around London, appear to experience stronger local SE activity. The key research issue here concerns whether this self-employment, through its impact on entrepreneurial dynamism, causes improvements in RD, or is merely a reflection of it.

This review places this question in its wider context and reviews the relatively limited range of extant analysis on the SE-RD nexus. The findings from this literature are, prima facie, consistent and supportive of a positive link. However, the review identifies a number of concerns, both conceptual and empirical, and in doing so highlights gaps in the available evidence base.

Authors
Associated Themes
  • Business Growth
Policy Briefing

Management capability, business support and the performance of micro-businesses in the UK.

This report documents analysis from Waves 1 and 2 of the UK Longitudinal Small Business Survey, focused on the subsample of sole-proprietorships and micro-businesses (less than 10 employees), comprising 3,882 businesses. The report is specifically concerned with the impact of business planning, support and advice on performance outcomes. Performance is captured by indicators of innovation propensity, exporting propensity and intensity and turnover per employee (productivity) and in turn innovation and exporting are conceptualised as feeding into productivity performance.

Associated Themes
  • Management and Leadership
Research Paper

Management capability, business support and the performance of micro-businesses in the UK. Research Paper 68

This report documents analysis from Waves 1 and 2 of the UK Longitudinal Small Business Survey, focused on the subsample of sole-proprietorships and micro-businesses (less than 10 employees), comprising 3,882 businesses. The report is specifically concerned with the impact of business planning, support and advice on performance outcomes. Performance is captured by indicators of innovation propensity, exporting propensity and intensity and turnover per employee (productivity) and in turn innovation and exporting are conceptualised as feeding into productivity performance.

Associated Themes
  • Management and Leadership