More than one in seven workers in Kirklees are their “own boss” after a self-employment boom, new figures show.
The district has joined a remarkable employment shift away from traditional jobs, which has led to Britain becoming the self-employment capital of Western Europe.
The most common jobs are in construction and taxi driving, although there has been an increase in the number of management consultants and chartered accountants.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed the number of workers categorised as self-employed has risen to its highest in 40 years.
Since the financial crash in 2008, two-thirds of the extra jobs created – or 732,000 – have been people working for themselves.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) described the figures as “worrying”, as the pay of self-employed workers is typically around half that of people in staff positions.
Its general secretary Frances O’Grady said:“The growth in self-employment is reducing people’s pay, job security and retirement income – and is likely to be reducing the government’s tax take too.”
Jane Snook, owner of The Flower Shop in Batley has run her own business for 21 years.
After having children, she decided to open her own company with a friend.
They ran a catering business together for a couple of years before their current shop in Branch Road became available.
“My friend had done some florist training so we decided to go for it,” Mrs Snook said.
“Being self-employed can be hard. I am working longer hours than when I started.
“We have gone through a recession and quite a few florists, including one in Birstall, closed so it has been tough.”
But Mrs Snook said there were many benefits to being your own boss.
“I am doing something I always wanted to do and it allows me to be more creative,” she said.