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Sharp increase in UK self-employment

The UK is becoming the "self-employment capital" of Western Europe after an increase in the number of people working for ­themselves, according to a new report.

The IPPR think tank said the country had caught up with the European Union average of 14 per cent of workers who are self-employed.

The number has increased by eight per cent over the past year, faster than in any other western European country, said the report.

Spencer Thompson, senior economic analyst for IPPR, said: "Around 2,000 people a month are moving off benefits into their own business. The Government's response to the rise in self-employment has been to praise the UK's entrepreneurial zeal, while increasingly promoting self-employment as an option to job-seekers.

"Some have seen it as a negative development, having legitimate concerns whether a lot of the new self-employed are actually employees by another name.

"The self-employed come in many shapes and sizes. Some are entrepreneurs, driven by high-growth ­ambitions, innovation and disruptive business models, but many are sole traders simply looking to get by or small businesses happy to stay at their current level.

"Many older self-employed workers are simply working longer."

The report was published ahead of the latest unemployment figures tomorrow.

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