Almost half of self-employed people have not been paid for work they have completed, research shows.

A report by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) and the Involvement and Participation Association (IPA), which polled 800 sole traders, revealed that 43% have finished projects they were never paid for.

In some cases, individuals reported having not been paid single amounts of up to £60,000.

The problem was found to be worse among younger self-employed people, with 58% of those aged between 18 and 34 having not been paid for completed work.

To tackle the problem, IPSE and IPA recommended that the government should make prompt payments a legal requirement, as well as increasing the powers of the small business commissioner.

The report made a number of other recommendations for improving self-employment, including:

  • clarifying client obligations and promoting good practice
  • encouraging the self-employed to upskill
  • promoting co-working and co-operatives.

Nita Clarke, director of the IPA, said:

“It’s hugely encouraging that so many of the self-employed enjoy meaningful and satisfying work.”

“But it’s also vital we take a close look at those areas where work quality is less positive, such as around poor payment culture, access to government support and misunderstanding among some client organisations about how the self-employed should be treated.”

Matthew Taylor,  Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, commented: “‘Working well for yourself’ is an important report reinforcing the account of self-employment coming out of a range of research including by the RSA. The self-employed are a diverse group who generally accept the downsides of their work as a price worth paying for the upsides. Unfortunately, our policy systems – particularly in relation to employment law, pensions and benefits – still don’t work as well as they should for the self-employed’”

Simon McVicker, IPSE’s Director of Policy, commented: “This is a hugely significant and timely report. With “good work” the issue of the hour after the Taylor Review, it is vital that we understand what makes for good working conditions not just for employees but also for the self-employed.