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Gig Economy

Volume 623: debated on Tuesday 14 March 2017

With no common definition of the “gig economy”, numbers vary in terms of how many workers are involved in it. We have commissioned new research, to be published this summer, which will look at the number of individuals working through digital platforms in the UK and at their experiences.

The number of freelancing moms has increased by 79% since 2008. Although I welcome the Government’s announcement that they will consult further in the summer on fairer maternity pay for self-employed moms, this was recommended 13 months ago. Why has it taken the Government so long to act on this crucial issue for these women when it took a stroke of a pen to increase their taxes?

As I said in my previous answer on national insurance, the increase in taxes, which itself is under review, will be ruling out—[Hon. Members: “Ah!”] In terms of the maternity and paternity issues raised by the hon. Lady, I should hasten to add, the consultation will run its course this summer and she will have an answer before the end of the year.

Does the Minister begin to understand the sense of grievance on the part of the growing army of the self-employed who are reluctant conscripts to self-employment in the gig economy? They work in a twilight world of insecurity without basic rights, but they will now have to pay more in tax although there was not one measure in the Budget to put the burden on the shoulders of those truly responsible: the Ubers of this world.

The hon. Gentleman knows that the Taylor review is currently examining all the issues that he raises. I am very concerned about the plight of some low-paid workers—they may well actually be workers, rather than self-employed. That is up to the courts and the Government to conclude later this year, but I assure him that we take the issues he raises very seriously.