A recent survey by insurance giant Direct Line for Business found that spouses and partners are called in to help on average for two days a week, with nearly a third of these being unpaid. As many as one in four are called in to work three or more days a week.
Direct Line said that many smaller businesses were turning to voluntary support from their partners to avoid high legal, secretarial or IT support fees.
More than half who rely on help need the support in the area of their business paperwork. A further one in five employ their partner as a receptionist, one in seven use them to help with legal and accounting services, while a further eight per cent look to their partners to carry out sales and marketing functions and generate opportunities.
According to the research, small businesses owners and their partners have increasingly aided each other over the past four and a half years - since the beginning of the first UK recession. This comes despite two in three of those supporting their trading partner having other employment elsewhere.
One in four were found to be working full time and two in five were working part time at another business.
The results came from a survey of tradesmen and small businesses employing fewer than five people with an annual turnover of around £124,000.
Jazz Gakhal, Head of Direct Line for Business said: "Small businesses are crucial in re-energising the UK economy. It is therefore, heartening to see partners working together to help sustain these small companies despite not being fully financially compensated and in many cases not paid at all."
Although it is still the norm amongst the smallest of small businesses, long-time readers will recall the battle between HMRC and a small IT consultancy, Arctic Systems, which led to the income-shifting legal cases where HMRC tried to claim higher rate tax on income it deemed was 'shifted' from one spouse to another. (See: Shout99's Section 660.)
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Susie Hughes © Shout99 2012