The UK economy earnt £119 billion from the contribution of UK freelancers in 2016, up from £109 billion in the previous year, according to new data from the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE).
The report indicates there are now two million-plus freelancers working in the UK – representing an increase of more than two-fifths (43%) since 2008.
Of the total UK population of self-employed professionals, some 42% of the 4.8 million demographic now make up freelancers; becoming the fastest-growing area of self-employment.
The freelance lifestyle is something that’s being embraced more heavily by young professionals with two-thirds (66%) more people aged 16-29 going freelance since 2008. However, those aged 40-49 and 50-59 still make up almost half (48%) of all British freelancers.
Chris Bryce, CEO at IPSE, said: “At a vital time when the economy needs to be dynamic in the face of growing uncertainty, freelancers are providing on-demand resources to businesses allowing them to be flexible in response to change.
“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.
“The reality is increasing numbers of people want to work this way across every sector. It’s important their choice is recognised and policy-makers support this trend rather than maintaining an older, less flexible employment model. We’re not living in the 20th century anymore.”
With the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, set to announce his Spring Budget 2017 on Wednesday, 8th March, reports suggest he could unveil plans to scale back the tax benefits currently enjoyed by the self-employed community.
It’s reported the Treasury is aware of the growth in the self-employed sector and the potential revenue lost to the government coffers with individuals moving out of paid employment and taking advantage of reduced National Insurance (NI) liabilities.
One option mooted is for Mr Hammond to equalise National Insurance payments among self-employed professionals in a bid to meet rising social care costs.
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