Could the self-employed swing the election?

Freelance body IPSE has analysed electoral data to find the constituencies where self-employed workers are likely to have the biggest voice in the election.

Using the ONS Annual Population Survey and data from each constituency, IPSE has identified the 20 most marginal seats with the highest proportion of self-employed people.

These constituencies include Gower, Croydon Central, Vale of Clwyd, Ealing Central and Acton, Halifax, Brighton Kemptown and Dewsbury. The proportion of self-employed workers in these areas ranges from 15% to 25%. And the majorities in these marginal seats range from a very slim 27 in Gower to 1,451 in Dewsbury.

However, the findings also show that many of the seats with the biggest proportion of self-employed workers tend to have Conservative MPs who hold large majorities. They include constituencies in Devon, Surrey, Sussex and Hertfordshire.

The UK constituency with the largest proportion of self-employed workers is St Ives, where 35% of the working population run their own business; here, the Conservative party holds a majority of just 2,469. The average proportion of self-employed people across the UK is 15%.

Lorence Nye, economic policy adviser at IPSE, said: "The ten biggest self-employment battlegrounds of the election [are] where the self-employed are most likely to be a top priority for candidates. This is particularly so because the self-employed are among the most engaged and policy-sensitive of all demographics. After all, being deeply financially and personally invested in their businesses, the self-employed feel the effects of policies - particularly economic ones - more sharply than others."

There is evidence of this from the last General Election, he said. "In 2015, Ed Miliband made a direct appeal to the self-employed, saying that he would give them increased employment benefits, such as maternity pay. And despite losing overall, Labour won a number of seats from the Conservatives in London constituencies with high self-employment, like Ealing, Brentford and Ilford. It's very possible that Miliband's direct appeal to the self-employed was a significant factor in this."

It means candidates like Rupa Huq in Ealing Central and Acton could do well to appeal to self-employed voters, added Nye. Huq holds a majority of just 274, and the self-employed represent 28% of the workforce in Ealing. "She may find it very useful to target those 13,000+ voters," said Nye. "In fact, it may be the best chance to secure her seat in what promises to be a very close race."

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