Almost half of all the people employed in the construction industry are now self-employed.

The latest figures from the Government reveal that in 2016/17, at least 1.1 million workers in the construction industry were being paid via the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS).

This number has jumped by 8 per cent from the previous year, when 993,000 were being paid via CIS. This change means that 47 per cent of construction jobs are now being filled by self-employed workers.

The figures were revealed after the construction union Unite submitted a Freedom of Information request.

As a result of the figures, Unite is now calling for a reform of employment rights as it claims that the latest figures reveal that many workers are being listed as self-employed for tax reasons and this means that bogus self-employment is once more on the rise.

CIS is a stand-alone tax system created for construction workers. Construction workers who are paid via this scheme are normally classified as self-employed, though Unite claims that the nature of their work indicates that the majority are not really self-employed.

The Government introduced measures in 2014 that were aimed at barring construction workers who operated via payroll companies from claiming to be self-employed.

Unite Assistant General Secretary Gail Cartmail said: “The only way that workers will be treated fairly and decently is by introducing clear rules which ensure that workers are either genuinely self-employed or paid by a standard PAYE method.

“Without such a reform productivity in construction will remain low, accidents and ill health will be high and the industry will fail to train sufficient numbers of apprentices.”