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How many people freelance in the UK?

9 January 2017

New statistics reveal that there are now 1.91 million people working as freelancers in the UK, with this number increasing all the time.

 

This is according to recent research carried out by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) for its new 'Exploring the UK freelance workforce in 2015' report, which was published in April 2016.

 

The report found that there has been a 36 per cent increase in the number of freelancers in Britain since 2008, something that is partly attributed to the effects of the financial recession of the mid-2000s. This challenging period saw many people lose their jobs or realise that their chosen career wasn't for them, resulting in them setting out on their own or pursuing a passion as a freelancer instead.

 

Among 16 to 29-year-olds, there was a 51 per cent rise in the number of freelancers between 2008 and 2015, while there was also a 63 per cent increase in over-60s freelancing. A growing group of older people are opting to freelance instead of retire completely, allowing them to continue using the skills they have spent a lifetime developing to add value to other companies.

 

What's more, IPSE also recently found that the economic contribution of the country's freelancers is on the rise, with estimates suggesting that this growing proportion of the workforce added £109 billion to the UK economy over the last 12 months alone.

 

Professor John Kitching of Kingston University London, who wrote the report, commented: "Freelancing continues to be an important contributor to the UK economy. Independent professionals are operating in all sectors of the UK economy: men and women, young and old, throughout the UK.

 

"It is clear that freelancer numbers are resilient to changing economic circumstances. Freelancing offers a valued form of working to those supplying their services on this basis, while also meeting the needs of end-users in many industries."

 

According to the workforce analysis, some 1.65 million individuals who freelance do so for their main job, while an additional 255,000 workers operate on this basis for a second job to supplement their income or to allow them to pursue an interest in a professional capacity alongside other work.

 

The flexibility to achieve an improved work-life balance tends to be what attracts people to the idea of freelancing, although others do it to try to boost their income or so they can control their client base, allowing them more freedom in their professional life.

 

Freelancers can be found in a range of industries, from creative disciplines to engineering and managerial roles. Some 23 per cent of those who work in this way occupy a managerial position, according to the IPSE figures.


By James Roberts

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