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Millions of self-employed people leave families unprotected

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More than four million self-employed workers do not have a back-up plan if they were unable to work, despite their families being disproportionately reliant on their income, according to a study.

Just 7% of the self-employed population have critical illness cover, compared with 9% of the general population, the Scottish Widows research found.

With the self-employed population now rising to 4.79 million workers in the UK, this is the equivalent of 4.3 million workers having no protection in place if they were unable to work due to illness.

Worryingly, two-thirds (62%) of self-employed workers’ households are reliant on one wage earner’s income, compared with 52% of the average population.

When asked about the consequences of losing their main income, one in five (21%) self-employed people said they would not be financially secure at all and 12% don’t know how long they would be able to pay their household bills if they or their partner were unable to work. Just under a third (30%) said they wouldn’t be able to rely on a single income.

Insufficient savings buffer

In positive news, self-employed people have more money stashed away – £31,442 on average, which is £5,675 more than the general population.

However, 15% couldn’t say how long their savings would last if they were unable to work and one in 10 said they would last less than a month.

Johnny Timpson, protection specialist at Scottish Widows, said: “At a time when welfare reform is resulting in significant changes to benefits such as child and working tax credits, income-based job seeker’s allowance, income support and housing benefits for those renting and with mortgage, all of which are being replaced by Universal Credit and are relied on by many of the self-employed, families need to do all they can to protect themselves in the event that the unexpected happens.”

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