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New research published by IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed) has revealed that the number of people freelancing as their main or second job is still on the rise.

Freelance Boost for the Economy

The IPSE report, ‘Exploring the UK Freelance Workforce in 2015’, highlighted statistics that showed UK freelancers contributed £109bn to the UK economy last year – but its CEO, Chris Bryce,  said this figure is a conservative estimate and that in reality, this number could be higher.

“Every day freelancers make an enormous contribution to businesses across the UK and the economy as a whole,” said Mr Bryce. “Research shows the vast majority of freelancers love what they do, so it’s no surprise that increasing numbers of people are turning to this way of working.”

They certainly are. The report also notes that freelancers now make up 6% of the country’s workforce, with 1.91m freelancers working in the UK by the end of 2015 – a 36% increase since 2008. 1.65m people pursue a freelance career as their main job and 225,000 list freelancing as a second job.

Who’s Freelancing – and Where?

IPSE’s study also identified trends for specific groups among the freelancing community.

Greater London and the South East remain the areas where the highest proportion of freelancers are located, home to 21% and 22% of freelancers respectively, with the South West in third place with 12% of the freelance community. Only 1% of freelancers in the UK are located in Northern Ireland.

Which Industries are Freelancers working in?

‘Freelancers have a widespread, though uneven, presence across major occupational groups,’ says the report – due, it posits, to not just historical precedent but also recent increased externalisation of the workforce as employers look for cost savings and greater flexibility.

“Large firms and, increasingly, small enterprises are tapping into this growing pool of independent workers who are available on demand, with the specialist skills to hit the ground running,” explains Chris Bryce. “There are few signs of the growth in freelancing slowing down any time soon.”

The three largest freelance groups now constitute more than a third of the freelance workforce.

Not far behind at position number 4 are the 117,000 IT and Communication freelancers.

In his Executive Summary of the report, John Kitching of Kingston University concluded: “Freelance workers continue to be an important component of the UK labour force, enabling organisational clients in a wide variety of industries and occupational settings to adapt labour practices flexibly to meet operational requirements. Growth in freelancer numbers has continued unabated during both the global financial crisis of 2008-9 and the subsequent economic upturn. The continued expansion of the freelance workforce indicates that access to a pool of suitably-skilled and well-motivated workers remains highly valued by organisational end-users.”

For freelancers, then, the future seems to promise continued availability of work – but also increased competition.

About The Author

Karl Bilby

We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!

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