The number of professional freelancers working in the UK has reached two million and is almost certain to rise further, according to a new report.
Online platform for the advisory and consulting industry, Consultancy.uk, sourced figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) and the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) to better understand the self-employed landscape across the UK in 2018.
The report confirms there has been a 41% increase in the number of self-employed and freelance professionals since 2001, up from 3.3 million to five million. This equates to 15% of the UK’s total workforce.
Two-fifths (40%) of this demographic are dedicated freelancers, with the professional services sector said to be a major driver of growth in this area.
The study claims that the UK’s post-recession economy has forced businesses in a range of sectors to become more risk-averse; increasingly nurturing relationships with the two-million-strong freelance community rather than hiring full-time staff.
In 2016, IPSE revealed that freelancers contributed £119 billion to the national economy, up from £109 billion in 2015. Meanwhile the workload flexibility of freelance professionals was also said to be worth £21 billion to the economy.
Almost two-thirds (64%) of businesses recently surveyed by OnePoll and Kalido admitted to relying on freelancers, with almost half (43%) revealing they use contractors to safely negotiate peak periods of work.
A further 37% said that freelancers were necessary as they found it hard to recruit the same expertise and know-how full-time.
Over half of all new freelancers in the professional services sector reportedly earn more money working independently, with consultants aged 40 and under said to be thriving the best.
In addition, a recent continental survey of 251 independent management professionals working throughout Europe found that 91% were satisfied with their freelance lifestyle.
More than half (53%) were highly satisfied, with only 5% indicating dissatisfaction at their freelance work-life balance.
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