LogoThe Home Business Alliance

Home Business Alliance
1604 Chynoweth House
Trevissome Park
Tel: 0871 284 5100


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      1. Achievement

      2. Status

      3. Support & Information

      4. Discounts

      5. Publicity

      6. New Business Ideas

      7. Media Info: David and Goliath; Business Zone home business Q&A; homeworking statistics


I note with pleasure that the Minister has nominated himself as your direct line of contact on home and self-employed business issues.
Christopher Chope, OBE, Small Firms Spokesman, Conservative Party

... a major step forward for the Home Business Alliance and critically, gives a voice to the millions of small businesses which operate from home. Well done.
Paul Nolan,AICB, Abbey National

I want to contratulale you and wish you all power to your elbow. Best wishes.
Alan Bretherton, National Federation of Enterprise Agencies

Congratulations on securing the 'seal of approval' from the DTI - it's fantastic.
George Rockett, Worldwide Events

Just to say "well done" on your dealings with the Government.
Councillor Brian Oxley


I joined the Home Business Alliance for added perceived credibility of being able to display their logo.
Mr. N. R., Co. Tyrone

The Home Business Alliance gives status to its members.
Mr. S. B., Bognor

The main thing I like about the Home Business Alliance is that it gives professional respectability to home businesses.
Mr. A. D., Catford

The chief benefit for me is the support of a reputable organisation.
M. J., Uphall

I joined the Home Business Alliance for the prestige of the name.
Mr. J. W., Colchester

I like the feel of the Home Business Alliance. The members are good, it has integrity and the code of practice is good. It's a good organisation to be part of.
Mr. E. S., Burnley

The most important benefits of the Home Business Alliance to me are the sense of belonging to a group of like-minded people and the information it gives me about other businesses.
Mr. P. C., Sittingbourne

I joined the Home Business Alliance for several reasons, one being that by being a member of your organisation it gives recognition and respectability to enquirers seeking a reputable business like mine.
Ms. A. R., Ardrossan

I joined the Home Business Alliance for information, discounts and to enhance my professional image ie. honesty and quality.
Mr. S. V-W., Deeside

What I like best about The Home Business Alliance is being part of a nationally recognised organisation.
L. P., Colchester

As I am keen to expand my business interests, I welcome information re current possibilities. The Home Business Alliance lends support in a solitary profession (writing) and provides a sense of 'community', of belonging - and of honesty! The main benefit for me is the feeling of integrity conveyed by the Home Business Alliance.
Mr. S.M., Haslemere

I joined the Home Business Alliance for its ethical representation on a collective scale.
Mr. J. F., Taunton


Becoming a member has saved me a lot of time, a lot of money and it has given me a lot of very sound advice. They were of particular help sorting out my business banking.
Mr. S. P., Lowestoft

Very useful information for home-based businesses.
Ms. R. L., Exeter

I'm very glad I joined. For me personally the biggest benefit is the pool of expertise which has been assembled by the Home Business Alliance and the terrific camaraderie among its members.
Mr. J. R., Belfast

Why did I join the Home Business Alliance? The answer is what everyone knows who is a member - excellent information and services!
Mr. L. G, Poole

Only browsing through The BOSS, it becomes quite evident that it's impossible to do without it.
Mr. A. H., Harrow

The Home Business Alliance gives hope to those of us who have lost faith in the so-called 'system', or who just don't fit neatly into a 9 to 5 routine. There must be a better way - and I think the Home Business Alliance is it!
Mr. N. C., Walsall

The Home Business Alliance provides us with a more in-depth insight into being self-employed. It keeps us in touch with people in a similar working environment - a degree of help as and when required.
Mr. J. L. and Ms. V. S., Tarporley

I actually read The BOSS. I no longer read any glossies - they just get filed.
Mr. M. G., London

We joined the Home Business Alliance to get support when we go into full-time self-employment.
Mr. and Mrs. J. O., Croydon

Good value for money.
Mr. D. N., Orpington

I would like to say that, even with the price increase, being an Home Business Alliance member is still good value for money.
Mr. M. W. Todmorden

For me, the most important thing about being in the Home Business Alliance is the up-to-date information it gives me.
Mr. T. N., Inverness

In a word, the reason I am in the Home Business Alliance is - information!
Mrs. D. N., Silloth

It can be lonely being self-employed. The Home Business Alliance keeps me well-informed of the outside world.
Mr. J. B., Brighton

You help me to save time, money and heartache by being able to learn from others' mistakes and to enjoy success by working for myself.
Mrs. C. W., Chester


The discounts available to members on computers, stationery and furniture are the main benefit of the Home Business Alliance for me; I used it to find an insurance company which specialises in home-based businesses.
Ms. G. M., London

I joined the Home Business Alliance for the discounts, and members' offers . . .
Mr. J. O., Airdrie

The most important ongoing membership benefit for me is members' offers and services.
Mr. T. A., Doncaster

The most important benefits I get from the Home Business Alliance are contacts with business suppliers, discounts and contact with other people working from home.
Ms. J. B., Caterham

I joined the Home Business Alliance for contacts and discounts.
Mr. F. K., Thorverton

The main ongoing benefits of the Home Business Alliance for me are advice services, discounts on products and services and information from other members.
Mr. A. S., London


I received over 50 replies to my free member's listing in the Home Business Alliance newsletter.
Mr. T. B., Accrington

I obtained five new agents as a result of the listing for my business in the Home Business Alliance Newsletter.
Mrs. B. D., Selby

I joined the Home Business Alliance to bring my business to the attention of potential customers.
Ms. J. B., Malvern

My free listing led to good business contacts.
Mr. R. W., London

I benefit from being part of a national organisation for home workers, and I gain support, information and a potential outlet for my services.
Mrs. C. S., Preston

Very worthwhile organisation with excellent networking opportunities.
Mr. A. M., Belfast

My prime reasons for joining the Home Business Alliance are good information and the chance to recruit new distributors.
Mrs. D. W., North Harrow

I feel that Home Business Alliance is the group to join if you are running a home-based business or want to set one up. It is the only organisation I know which offers real potential for mutually beneficial new business contacts and arrangements with other members.
Mr. D. H., Kilwinning


I joined the Home Business Alliance to receive ideas and advice on starting self-employment.
Mr. C. H., Edgware

The main benefit of the Home Business Alliance for me is new business ideas.
Mr. G. G. M., Gt. Yarmouth

I joined the Home Business Alliance to get information, support and business ideas.
Ms. J. J., Liverpool

Tips, ideas and information to run my business successfully are the main advantages I get from the Home Business Alliance. Also, I like knowing that I can contact the experts for advice.
Mr. J. S., Burntwood

The Home Business Alliance gives me ideas (that work) for starting a part-time business.
Mr. J.O., Airdrie

My prime reason for joining the Home Business Alliance is that I'm interested in running a business from home and need ideas and advice on how to get started.
Mrs. C. T., Lydd-on-Sea

The Home Business Alliance gives me sources and ideas for working from home.
Miss M. K., Salisbury




With the current economic downturn likely to dramatically expand the self-employed sector, an “elite” body representing its interests is celebrating a David v Goliath triumph by reaching the top of the internet search engines for “home business.”

The Home Business Alliance (Home Business Alliance), www.homebusiness.org.uk, formerly the Nationwide Bureau of Home Businesses, is now into its 16th year.

Founder head Len Tondel reflects: “Like so many of the activities and interests of our members, our own website is very much a home-grown facility and we are thrilled to be ahead of all the governments, the US websites and all those sponsored by the telecoms/computer industries etc.

“This has been achieved without any real web development expertise – just simply by learning the basics, perseverance, regular updates and very specifically targeted content. After bumping around at the top of google.co.uk and yahoo.co.uk searches for the past three or four years, we have now risen to No. 1 on Google and Yahoo.”

With people increasingly looking to change employment direction or just add another string to their financial bows, recent trends have driven more and more visitors to the Home Business Alliance website and, given the present gloomy economic picture of cost-cutting and redundancies, the association anticipates a considerable increase in the numbers of home business operators.

“The Home Business Alliance’s actual membership figure is still relatively small,” says Len, “but we like to think of ourselves as something of an elite body - of great value to those who do join us and with a track record that speaks for itself.”

As the UK’s oldest-established home business organisation, the Home Business Alliance can list an impressive collection of “firsts” for itself and achievements for its members.

It was the first and only business organisation to be given permission to operate a truly national credit union.

It was also the first business organisation to sign a Memorandum of Co-operation with the National Federation of Enterprise Agencies; the first and only business organisation to have its material on sale in the High Street; the first home business organisation to lobby Parliament and government offices on home business issues; and the first home business organisation to have its material in circulation in Jobcentres and Careers Offices.

Current membership success stories include Mark McLaughlin, who from scratch just four years ago has developed a UK Top Five accounting website (http://www.taxationweb.co.uk).

A French member, Veronique Lazerat, also started from scratch around the same time and now owns the largest saffran plantation in all of France. (http://www.safrandefrance.fr).

Both reflect the Home Business Alliance’s original and enduring concept of an ethical self-help framework for home-based business people who need not only advice and help but also something to belong to which they can identify with and feel part of.

“This sense of belonging is very much part of the Home Business Alliance membership benefits package,” Len explains. “Members share their knowledge and experience with others and that is why the space on the Home Business Alliance website is very much their space.

“There is no extra charge for Home Business Alliance members to use the website for their goods or services or to simply write in with their latest news and views.

“Member to member discounting or special offers are commonplace, while a number of Home Business Alliance members are professional specialists in their own right and freely give their advice and help to each other.”

A major feature of the Home Business Alliance website is its impartial review of home business opportunities, validated by long experience in the business world of both Len and his partner Marian Owen, who runs the Business Opportunity Watch service.

Len, now 58 and steeped in his family home business culture since the age of four, observes: “The future of the Home Business Alliance lies very much in becoming a pan-European business association, as regulations and harmonisation start to bite, while at the same time, with ever-improving transportation, communications and freedom of movement, the home business marketplace becomes truly global. To this end, the Home Business Alliance has established its HQ in France.”




DATE: 22nd January 2009

at the Home Business Alliance HQ in France
Len Tondel
Tel: 0871 284 5100
Email: info@homebusiness.org.uk


Home Business Alliance to BusinessZone Home Business article: questions and answers

(The following issues and answers tend to be run-of-the-mill media enquiries - so by all means use the information provided as a further set of guidelines in assessing the home business 'lie of the land' in the UK. Ed.)

1. What particular kinds of companies and people are most suited to home-run businesses?


The range is enormous; among our members we have a large haulage company to the proprietor of a haunted castle; web designers to plumbers and everything else you can think of between. Usually, if your business activity doesn't require large, bespoke premises and a heavy customer footfall and it revolves largely around your own efforts, such as freelancing, for example, why not work from home?

As far as the kind of people who are suited to a home business is concerned, we find that they are personable, they like to meet other people, they can self-start instinctively, they will work hard and long and they will be able to cope with stress. Often a lot of stress, if juggling family and personal committments around business activities is a factor and it is taking a while for the money to start coming in. You will need to be somebody who can go out into the wide world and bring in the work; you will need to be competitive and you will need to be patient.

I am assuming that the majority of people wanting to run a business from home will already have some firm ideas about what they want to do. However, you can never do too much research. Use your local Business Link and enterprise agency. Go along to some Chamber of Commerce and business club meetings. Have a chat with your bank manager. Pick as many brains as you can to discuss your home business ideas with - not forgetting family and friends, as well. They will often be the best judges of your character but put altogether, you should be trying to assess if there is a market opening for you. Your plans may well be viable on paper but to succeed you will have to compete - and that's another matter.

Professional business advisers will be able to test you for your potential as a businessperson.

Also, Cobweb Information produce a massive series of factsheets looking into business ideas and business information. Your local Business Link, enterprise agency or perhaps one of the High Street banks will usually have a Cobweb library. Otherwise, you can go directly to: http://www.cobwebinfo.com/

2. What are the advantages of running a business from home?


For me, the main advantages are ideolgical and lifestyle. I was raised in a home business environment and although I have worked for employers over the years, I, like so many other family-run businesses especially, cannot really understand a different way of earning a living.

The other major factor is lifestyle. Because I can work from home, I have chosen to live in a water-mill in the heart of the French coutryside and with the help of modern telecommunications and transport efficiency (only on this side of the Channel, I'm afraid), I can be in immediate contact with my clients on a round-the-clock basis and hop on a plane to visit them if necessary, faster than it takes for a commute from the Midlands into London. And a lot more cheaply too, may I add.

If you arrange your time properly, then all kinds of new lifestyle options are open to you: improving your education, more time to spend in the garden or working on the house; more time to pursue a hobby and certainly more quality time with the family.

Assuming you do manage your time well, then savings are also there to be had. Simply having your own garden will make a difference. The cost-savings to be had from an end to commuting can be enormous. You should have more time to walk or cycle to do the shopping instead of rushing around in the car after work and at weekends. There are lots and lots of benefits and I personally don't accept any of the counter-arguments, such as isolation. I don't get the time to feel isolated.

From a largely business point of view, the advantages are:

You can parallel paid employment, simply to earn a bit extra.
You don't want or have to employ anyone.
It's low risk especially if you have little finance.
It allows you to trial a business idea.
You don't need a shop front.
The internet can be used to help you do business around the clock; in your pyjamas, if you want.
It allows you a comfort or cushion zone; you can get started slowly and simply go with the flow.

3. What are the tax implications of running a business from home?


The main issue as always, will be your trading style (e.g. sole trader, partnership, limited liability partnership or limited company). In order to make the best choice, there are a number of important factors to be taken into account, in addition to cost and taxation. Going to see a good accountant before you start trading can save problems down the line. Similarly, a good accountant can advise you about claiming part of your property running costs as a business expense. Care needs to exercised here because if you use part of your home solely for business (e.g. a room or an identifiable part of a room) then you may become liable to the payment of business rates and/or a restriction of the normal exemption from capital gains tax when you sell your home. In practice, these business rates and capital gains tax problems are unlikely to arise if you don't use any room or part of a room exclusively for business purposes, and your calculations of the business element of your home running costs reflect this fact..

4. What are the insurance implications of running a business from home?


A specific home business insurance policy or extension to an existing policy should be sought. There are a number of determining factors such as whether or not stock is held in the home and much more topically, the provision of flood cover especially after 2010 - beyond which the Association of British Insurers has not committed to providing further cover for flooding.
A lot of insurance products for the self-employed and the home business are now available so I would suggest you go along to see an independent insurance broker to compare a number of policies side-by-side. He will advise you on whether you also need Public and Products Liability Insurance.

5. What planning permission issues should entrepreneurs bear in mind?


Planning permission is required if there is a change of use from domestic to business use. It seems that the Valuation Office Agency, which assesses properties for their rateable value, is now becoming more aggressive in its approach where a business is run from home.

In practice, as for the tax implications discussed above, this is unlikely to be a problem if you do not use any part of your home exclusively for business.

Re-rating of a property often arises from inspections carried out after complaints from neighbours. So make sure you don't annoy them with noise, smells, deliveries or a lot of visitors. And remember that if an inspector does call from the Valuation Office, he is required to give at least 24 hours' written notice before entering your property. Anyone who visits without prior notice can be turned away.

For anyone who would like further advice, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors offer a helpline 0870 333 1600.

6. What other legal issues should the entrepreneur bear in mind?


Business activity in the UK is becoming increasingly regulated in the style of our EU friends but it must be remembered that the business climate in the UK is among the best in the world with only Holland and Ireland ranked higher among the Europeans, according to a recent survey by the Institute of Economic Research.

Clearly, you must register with HMRC and they have a number of helpful guides which explain your responsibilities.

All businesses must show their trading details on their stationery and just as importantly, on their websites as well.

At the same time, get yourself a good set of trading terms and conditions as well as a disclaimer, if necessary.

You may need to make special professional and/or public liability arrangements.

Website design must also now take account of disabled users. A free guide is available at: http://www.drc-gb.org/library/website_accessibility_guidance/pas_78.aspx

If you hold names and addresses or other personal information on computer disk, you may be legally obliged to register under the Data Protection Act, 1998. The fee is currently £35 for a one year period. To find out if you have to register, contact The Information Commissioner (previously called The Data Protection Registrar) http://www.ico.gov.uk.

Other legal responsibilities which may affect a home business include:

The Sale of Goods Act 1979

The Trades Descriptions Act 1968

The Distance Selling Regulations 2000

The Electronic Commerce Regulations 2002

Further details can be found on the Office of Fair Trading website at www.oft.gov.uk. Trading Standards, too, publish a large number of guidance leaflets for businesses and you can find these at http://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk

In addition, Health and Safety issues will become more and more incumbent upon the home workplace; a voluntary website which looks at these matters is: http://www.safeworkers.co.uk/

7. How can entrepreneurs ensure that running a business from home does not impact too heavily on their work-life balance?


We recently started to take part in a programme with one of our corporate members, The Small Firms Enterprise Development Intiative (SFEDI) - a quasi-official advisory body - and this is one of the issues our representatives examined at the inaugural meeting. Here are some of their answers.

Many people forget that there are often other people involved in running a business from home so at a very early stage, it is important to have a family meeting, say what you plan to do, get everyone's opinions and come up with some ground rules.

Establish a structure: morning for family, afternoon for business. Use visual indicators to show when you are working, such as a closed door.

Establish acceptable reasons for being disturbed i.e. "Only if you're bleeding."

Understand your body clock; learn at what times you are at your intellectual best; 9 - 5 does not necessarily correspond with your mind/body's peak performance. Look at yourself in the context of a 24 hour day and lifestyle.

Cross a mental threshold when moving between family/leisure/business activities; take a shower, change your clothes.

When working, do not answer the front door or take personal phone calls.

Use a separate and dedicated address for your business mail.

Above all, when you set your ground rules, stick to them.

It's also true that it is easy to get waylaid by distractions if you are working at home; particularly if you have got something difficult to do and alternative pleasurable pursuits are beckoning. A useful strategy if you have some big task which you have been putting off, is to just get started with the easiest bit. A magic thing often happens when you get started: you get involved, you concentrate and become oblivious to distractions ... and before you know it, it's done and dusted.

8. How can entrepreneurs maintain good working practices?


There are specialist consultants such as http://www.purelypeppermint.com who can put you on the right footing but after that it's a lot of the same answers as to question 7. http://www.safeworkers.co.uk/ offers some suggestions as well.

9. Many entrepreneurs will be concerned that customers and clients will not do business with them because they are running a home business. How can entrepreneurs run a business from home but give the impression of a bigger business?


Firstly, I don't think there is anything like as much stigma attached to running a business from home these days as there might have been 10 or 15 years ago. Quite the opposite.

You are much more likely to be judged by your website, your voice over the telephone and your presence at a meeting, than by your location. Having said that, I don't flaunt the fact that I work from home, either.

Our business address is that of our fulfilment house which corresponds to dedicated premises. In other words, an appropriate-sounding accommodation address.

The business phone and fax lines are dedicated numbers and if we aren't available to answer calls personally, they are automatically routed to a personalised message handling service. Alternatively, re-route the calls to your mobile, if it is going to be switched on and you are going to be able to deal with the calls efficiently.

For meetings, it is often the case that the clients will ask where you would like to meet if not invite you to their company premises.

If you are obliged to set a venue then unless you live somewhere imposing, go for neutral territory. I don't like business workspaces, I find them too clinical. I'd rather meet in a hotel or restaurant which I know has a comfortable lounge or salon and somewhere discreet and fairly quiet for a bite to eat and a drink to follow the meeting.

An alternative is to join a private members' club if there is one conveniently to hand and if its fees aren't too high! This adds a certain cachet to the meeting and works quite well; a typical example is the IoD but there's lots to choose from.

The most important thing is to find a good atmosphere where both you and your client can relax as well as get on with some business.



Homeworking statistics and trends: editorial note. We are maintaining the statistics and findings on UK home businesses and home working below, because we are not aware of any more current, meaningful research conducted into these areas of labour force trends. There is a tendency for banks and telecommunications companies to come out with statistics of their own at regular intervals but these are not findings which are professionally considered to be anything more than publicity-seeking exercises and should be treated as such.

The official source for labour force statistics and home working in general can be found here: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/CCI/nscl.asp?ID=6598 although you will see that the figures offered (Googled 16.12.2010) are even more dated than those below!

As a rule of thumb, using official figures for the self employed is considered to be a good indicator of the numbers of businesses registered as operating from a home base although the wider mix of 'homeworking' (as opposed to just 'home businesses') can be taken to also include freelancers, teleworkers and outworkers.

Homeworking Statistics and Trends 2005/2006
(revised 24th July 2006)

Definitions of 'home-based business' and 'home-based worker' (as used by various sources).

The term 'home-based business' means any business or self-employed person that uses a residential property as a base from which to run their operation, consciously doing so rather than maintaining a separate workspace.

The term 'home-based worker' covers all categories of people who work from home, either as a home-based business, as an employee or a combination of the two.

Foreword (taken from Labour Market Trends, October 2005, published by UK National Statistics http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_labour/LMT_Oct05.pdf)

Enterprises in the UK

The number of enterprises in the UK continues to rise. There were an estimated 4.3 million business enterprises in the UK at the start of 2004 compared with 4.0 million at the start of 2003. This is the largest increase since the series began in 1994.

Almost all business enterprises (99.3%) are small (0 to 49 employees). Only 26,000 (0.6%) are medium-sized (50 to 249 employees) and 6,000 (0.1%) are large (250 or more employees).

UK enterprises employ an estimated 22.0 million people, and have an estimated combined annual turnover of £2,400 billion. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) together account for more than half of the private sector employment (58.5%) and turnover (51.3%) in the UK.

Most enterprises (3.1 million) have no employees, equivalent to 72.8% of all enterprises. However the proportion without employees varies among different industries, from 86.6% of businesses in construction to 17.9% for enterprises in the hotels and restaurants sector.

Of the 4.3 million enterprises in the UK at the start of 2004, 2.72 million were sole proprietors, 540,000 were partnerships, and 1.02 million were companies. Most of the increase in the number of enterprises to the start of 2004 is due to a rise of 230,000 (13%) in the number of unregistered sole proprietorships, plus a rise of 20,000 (13%) in the number of un-registered partnerships.

These figures are estimated using the Labour Force Survey, which showed an increase in the number of self-employed people in the UK during 2003.

Also continuing the trend from 2002 to 2003, the number of registered companies rose over 60,000(7%), while the number of registered sole proprietor-ships fell by less than 40,000 (5%) and the number of registered partnerships fell by less than 20,000 (5%) to the start of 2004. Overall, these data from the Inter-Departmental Business Register show that the number of registered businesses rose by nearly 10,000 between the start of 2003 and the start of 2004.

Focusing on enterprises without employees, the lar gest increases have been in construction and business services, which have both had an increase of 70,000 enterprises. Most other industries have had an increase in this category too, but agriculture and fishing had a small decrease of 7,000.


'The rise and rise of the UK homeworker'
(taken from the website http://www.flexibility.co.uk, sourced from Labour Market Trends, October 2005 by Yolanda Ruiz and Annette Walling,
published by UK National Statistics)

2005 stats show homeworking and teleworking still increasing

The boundaries between home and work are becoming increasingly blurred for many UK workers. Now 3.1 million people are regular home-based workers.

Of these 2.4 million are teleworkers - people who work with computers and telecommunications to work at or from home.
The growth of both homeworking and in particular teleworking has been one of the most marked features of workforce change in recent years, as the following table shows:

Growth in homeworking and teleworking:
(millions and % of UK workforce):

Homeworkers 1997 - 2.3 (9%) 2001 - 2.6 (10%) 2005 - 3.1 (11%)

Teleworkers 1997 - 0.9 (4%) 2001 - 1.5 (5%) 2005 - 2.4 (8%)

The figures above refer to people who work "mainly" in their own home or use their home as a base. It does not include occasional home or teleworkers. The survey found a million people working at home in the reference week who do not work mainly from home.
As well as not including less frequent/occasional homeworkers, the report also does not include people who work in the same grounds or building as their home. So if you work from a workshop at the end of the garden or a garden office, you're probably not in the figures. And mobile teleworkers who sometimes work at home, but don't consider it their "base" are also left out.

So the figures are in some respects an under-reporting of the phenomenon. Other surveys show that for employed teleworkers 1-2 days per week is the norm, so they won't fall into the "mainly" working from home category.

This is an area where more research needs to be carried out. It is the extent and nature of occasional teleworking that gives us an insight into how it may develop in the future.

The figures show there is a strong connection between self-employment and homeworking.

Employed: 34%/homeworkers; 36%/teleworkers; 87%/all workers

Self-employed: 64%/homeworkers; 62%/teleworkers; 13%/all workers

Some 41% of self-employed people are teleworkers.
However, employed teleworking lags behind. Only 4% of employees currently telework ( that is "mainly" work from home rather than occasionally).

There are two lessons to be drawn from these findings:

The home is the hub of tremendous economic energy, and the focus for much entrepreneurship and business innovation. This is despite public policy which is based on separating work from the home.

Large employers are relatively slow to recognise the potential of the home being a base for their employees. We feel this is changing, but at the moment it is mainly managers and professionals who are allowed (or allow themselves) to work from home as employees.

The importance of mobility

According to the analysts at National Statistics, "The upward trend in teleworking rates (the proportion of the workforce who are teleworkers) has been driven mainly by an increase in people teleworking from different places with home as a base".

This is in many ways a natural development. The new technologies used for teleworking are increasingly "footloose" with laptop and tablet computers, handheld devices, plus the increasing availability of wireless access technologies.

Working from home is just one of many options for remote working. The point is to work from wherever is the most effective place to get the job done.

Regional differences

The report also notes some regional variations, with the southern regions of England having higher levels of homeworking and teleworking.

To some extent these figures raise more questions than answers. The regions of England are artificial constructions, and all the average regional figures mask significant variations. As other reports have found, the more remote rural areas usually have much higher than average levels of home-based self-employment.

The region with the highest levels is the South-East. A key reason may be the high costs of property. Working from home as self-employed or running a micro-business takes away the need for an expensive business overhead. A further reason may be that it is in the South-East that broadband technologies were first rolled out. Difficulties in commuting no doubt also are an incentive to work from home.

What next?

The search for a better work-life balance, rising property costs, the availability of new technologies and an upsurge in domestic entrepreneurship all contribute to the continuing upward trend in working from home.

We see no prospect of these trends levelling off in the near future. Patterns of early adoption which dominate in the South East will spread throughout the UK. That is managers, professionals and technical workers - two thirds of them male at the moment - will adopt these new ways of home based working first.

But the trends show that there is also a "normalisation" process, with increasing numbers of women working from home, and also more lower-skilled process jobs migrating to the home environment.

Now it is up to policy makers to recognise the significance of the trends, and plan for more balanced, less commuting-orientated communities.


The Commission for Rural Communities
(posted 24th July 2006)

Home Based Work in Rural England - extract from statistics and actions

Statistics on home-based working in rural England:

More than one in nine economically active residents of rural England (11.8%) work mainly from home. This represents 638,000 people and is a higher percentage share than the proportion found across England as a whole - 9.16% (over 2 million people) or, in the urban areas outside London (8.32%, Census 2001).

There is strong correlation between those working from home and self-employment, with 51% of home-based workers being self-employed (1,053,000 people) in England as a whole, rising to almost 3 in every 5 (58%) in rural areas.

Of the economically active, a greater proportion are self-employed in rural areas than in urban: 16.3% (881,000 people) in rural compared to 12.17% (2,073,000) in urban districts (Census 2001).

Despite the scale of this group, more than half of the economic development departments in 145 rural districts (pre-2005 definition of 'rural' areas) admit to not using readily-available information on home-based working to inform their policies and strategies.

In recent years several Countryside Agency studies and projects touched on home working: studies into the 'Role of Women in Rural Economies' and the 'Impact of Migration into Rural England';

action research in the North East on raising an enterprise culture; and

support for self-employed projects for women and young people with WIRE (Women in Rural Economies), Prince's Trust, DALE and Goole Development Trust.

In 2004 we commissioned the Live/Work Network to research and publish the report Under The Radar - tracking and supporting Rural Home-Based Businesses'. This provides for the first time a comprehensive profile of rural home-workers and their needs. It also recommends actions for several tiers and types of organisations - public and private.

Actions for Government Departments

recognise the social and economic significance of home-based businesses in our rural economies. These include widening the base of employment, reducing commuting, revitalising 'daytime' economies, improving prospects for disadvantaged groups and increasing mixed use of properties. These changes will lead to more sustainable rural communities;

address current weaknesses in support for home-based businesses: Live/Work research found almost no specifically-targeted assistance by responsible agencies, such as the Small Business Service and RDA's. One government organisation should have lead-responsibility for promoting and tracking the effective support of rural home-based businesses;

consider including greater support for home-based businesses in a cross-department Public Service Agreement and in comprehensive performance-assessment criteria for all local authorities.

Actions for Regional Development Agencies and regional government

establish the incidence of home-based business in each region.

Work with observatories and others to set statistical benchmarks to enable future trends to be tracked and to identify hot spots. This information should be linked to clear targets for assistance given to rural home-based businesses for Business Link Operators;

develop strategies for home-based business as part of Regional Economic Strategies and supporting strategies;

support for home-based business could be one means of delivering PSA targets of increasing employment rates of disadvantaged groups as lone parents and people aged 50+.

Actions for local government

research the incidence and impact of home-based working in each borough/district including its effects on housing, jobs, businesses and transport;

work with local strategic partnerships to incorporate support for home-based businesses into strategies and encourage these and any business brokers to direct resources to micro-enterprises;

mainstream support for home-based businesses and audit resources spent on all businesses to ensure that efforts are equitably-distributed;

incorporate support for home-based working and live/work property in planning and housing activity.consider developing 'hub' facilities to offer home-based businesses a range of services.

For further information, contact: Paul Penny cook, Enterprise & Skills Team, Commission for Rural Communities, Tel: 01242 533438, Email: paul.pennycook@countryside.gov.uk


Under the Radar: Tracking and Supporting Rural Home-based Business

How do people earn a living in rural areas, now that only 4% of the rural population work in agriculture?

A new report for the UK Commission for Rural Communities (a division of the Countryside Agency) sets about exploding some of the myths and poses some challenges about the rural economy in the 21st century.

The focus of the report, Under the Radar, is on home-based businesses which form a potentially dynamic but unsung Cinderella sector creating wealth and employment in rural areas.

The two key questions posed by the report are:

Why does the value of this sector go largely unrecognised by business support agencies and policy makers?

What should public authorities at every level do to respond and how can they maximise the potential?

Homeworking more common in rural areas

One of the particular strengths of this report is that it is strongly evidence-based. A huge amount of evidence has been marshalled from official and other sources, to present a convincing picture of the strength of the homeworking economy.
Amongst the data pulled together by the authors are the following:

Home-based working in the UK had risen to almost 3.3 million in the Spring of 2004, according to Labour Market Trends.

766,000 people work from home in the 145 English rural districts (the focus of the report)

This 11.6% of the rural workforce working from home compares to 8% of the urban workforce

56% of self-employed people are home-based

Nationally, 39% of small businesses are home-based; in rural areas it is 55%

60% of rural homeworkers are men, 40% women

What are home-based workers doing?

The nature of homeworking has changed radically over the course of the last century. Most people who worked at home at the time of the 1901 Census were women engaged in dress-making and laundry work.

There remains a minority of low-paid homeworking jobs. But over the past 15 years or so the availability of new technologies has transformed the nature of home-based work, not least in rural areas. This takes two forms:

New economy jobs dependent on the new ICT, where skilled professional or lower-skilled data processing is carried out from remote locations

More traditional occupations can become more viable as business start-ups as the new technologies are used to overcome distance, so for example craft products can reach a far greater market, or customers can be enticed to come from afar.

In around 50% of cases, according to the report, home-based businesses are started up by incomers to rural areas, something that the authors feel should be encouraged and supported.

Many people are running more than one business enterprise, and many also combine part-time employment with self-employment.

What is the impact of home based business in rural areas?

Rural England has faced many challenges over the past 20 years. Thousands of post offices, villages shops and pubs have closed, leaving many communities without local services. The growth of home-based working can help to recreate local economies, and revitalise dormitory towns and villages.

The authors also point out the "sustainable communities impact". Potential benefits of home-based work include:

use of one property not two (i.e. for home and work)

less need to build new workspace to accommodate employment growth

village and town centre renaissance

reduction in commuting travel

increased security - more homes occupied during the daytime

an enhanced role for market towns providing 'hub' facilities.

So what should be done?

At the moment this growth in home-based enterprise is slipping "under the radar". There is a plethora of agencies with fingers in the pie of rurality and economic development, but there is little evidence of anyone getting to grips with the issues.
As the report says: "What is rare is any cross-theme thinking that sees the success of home-based business as being good for wealth creation as well as for the community and the environment.

Put simply, planning and economic development departments are not doing enough to connect the two issues together and work at supporting the new home-based working sector".

The business support agencies come under fire from many of the interviewees in the report, as well as from the authors. Most of the support available is jargon-ridden, bureaucratic and is geared to growth and expansion models rather than sole entrepreneurs.
Networking models, however are held up as examples of good practice - where public money supports self -help networks and hubs where home-based workers can network and have access to facilities.

The report has many suggestions for public policy responses: for central government, Regional Development Agencies and local authorities as well as Business Links.

The recommendations include:

gathering evidence about local home-based businesses and their needs

supporting networking and hub initiatives

encourage the in-migration of high earners

support mentoring initiatives

simplify the processes of applying for funding.

And above all, home-based business in rural areas needs to come onto the radar.



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Contact/e-mail: info@homebusiness.org.uk

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