MORE than one in seven workers in Bradford are their “own boss” after a self-employment boom, new figures show.
The city has joined a remarkable trend away from traditional jobs, which has led to Britain becoming the self-employment capital of Western Europe.
In Bradford, 14.6 per cent of those in work are self-employed, the same proportion as Kirklees, slightly behind Calderdale (14.8 per cent) and significantly ahead of Leeds (12.3 per cent).
The new self-employed include management consultants, photographers and chartered accountants, although the most common jobs are still in construction and taxi driving.
The figures were produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), amid growing political controversy over the employment shift.
Since the financial crash in 2008, two-thirds of the extra jobs created - or 732,000 - have been people working for themselves.
The Government has hailed a growth in people running their own businesses. A spokesman said: “Many people aspire to be their own boss.”
However, the ONS found the typical weekly income of the self-employed had plunged by almost a quarter since 2008 – from £269 a week, to only £207.
That means they are earning only roughly half the wages of those in staff jobs, prompting the TUC to describe the figures as “worrying”.
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.”
Bradford Chamber of Commerce acknowledged that, during the recession, many of the new self-employed had been forced to “take some form of action to earn a living”.
But it also hailed a cultural shift in business, which meant there was more willingness to “have a go”, while online trading had triggered many more courier-type services.
Paul Mackie, the Chamber’s president, said: “There are a number of reasons that explain the increasing self-employed figures. During the recession, it became a ‘needs must’ approach by some who had lost their jobs.
“Government initiatives such as the New Enterprise Allowance facilitated that approach, giving money to help people make that shift.
“More than 500 people have been supported into self-employment since 2013 by Chamber-assisted business support programmes in West and North Yorkshire. We hope to keep the momentum going.”
Across the country, about 4.6 million people work for themselves – more than at any time in 40 years – while another 356,000 people have a second job in which they are self-employed.
Many are people working beyond the state pension age. Self-employment among the over-65s almost doubled from 241,000 in 2009 to 428,000 in 2014.
Beer expert Leigh Terry, who started a micro-brewery in Baildon, is an example of someone who is self-employed.
After studying bio-chemistry, she worked for Kent brewers Shepherd Neame for 11 years and was fully trained at the Institute of Brewing.
"I wanted to set up a business and beer is all I really know about and that's how the Baildon Brewing Company began," said Mrs Terry, 46, who also works behind the bar at the Woolpack in Esholt.
"I made my first beer in May - a dark, full flavoured ale called No7.
"And when I tasted my first pint of it at the Halfway Pub down the road, I nearly cried, I was so happy."
She can produce 24 barrels called firkins and which hold nine gallons from each batch and already has her ales on sale in other pubs in the district.