29 April 2016 09:00
Freelancers contribute £109bn to UK economy
A huge rise in the number of freelancers in the UK means that sole traders are now contributing £109 billion to the UK economy.
New research published by IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed, reveals that the economic contribution of freelancers is often disproportionately higher than that of other businesses as this group largely consists of highly-skilled, specialist individuals.
There were 1.91 million UK freelancers in 2015, a rise of 36% since 2008; and freelancers now account for 6% of the UK workforce. The vast majority of these (1.65 million) choose to freelance as their main job, with 255,000 doing so as a second job.
Chris Bryce, IPSE CEO, said:
"Every day freelancers make an enormous contribution to businesses across the UK and the economy as a whole. Large firms, and increasingly, SMEs are tapping into this growing pool of independent workers who are available on demand, with the specialist skills to hit the ground running."
And, said Bryce, "there are few signs of the growth in freelancing slowing down any time soon. 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."
Small Business Minister Anna Soubry said:
"Freelancers know their trades inside out and make a massive contribution to our economy, so it is absolutely right that the government does all it can to support them. We must continue to champion the work they do and recognise the challenges they face every day."
The research also shows that more women are turning to freelancing than ever before. Other newcomers driving this growth include mature workers, with those aged 60 plus rising by 63% since 2008, and also much younger freelancers aged between 16 and 29, who rose in number by 51% in the same period.