The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) has published its study findings on how much freelancers contribute to the economy. The study revealed that freelancers in the UK contributed £119 billion to the economy in 2016.
Despite imminent IR35 legislation changes for off-payroll workers in the public sector, the freelancer industry as a whole remained undeterred last year, contributing £10 billion more to the UK economy compared to 2015.
Freelancers, who tend to contract their work on a project basis, are actually the fasted growing segment of the self-employed industry, and make up 42% of the collective self-employed population.
The increase in freelancer output is largely thanks to the efforts of two million highly skilled freelancers, according to an article published by ThisIsMoney.co.uk.
More positives arising from the study include a 55% increase of female freelancers from 2008 and a 79% increase in freelancing mums.
IPSE also revealed that the number of Millennials aged 26 to 29 who are choosing freelancing careers over 9 to 5 office hours has risen 66% since the financial crisis in 2008. However, freelancing is still more popular with experienced pros between the ages of 40 and 59.
Where the industry could experience a growth slowdown is with regards to off-payroll public sector workers, as many freelance positions for health occupations – an area which has seen a growth of 191% since 2008 – reside within the public sector. HMRC’s imminent IR35 legislation changes for the public sector could cause either an exodus to the private sector or an increase in rates, which would put a strain on resources.
Meanwhile, a Government review of the gig economy was launched back in November to assess the impact on the economy of ‘gig-based’ businesses such as Uber and Deliveroo. The review focused on issues such as job security, pensions, holiday and parental leave rights for gig economy workers. The results of the review could have implications for tax laws, as there have been claims that HMRC is losing out on critical tax income due to this new way of working.
With emerging technologies generating a need for skills on a more ad-hoc basis than ever before, freelancers are helping to bridge the gap between what technology makes possible in terms of goods and services, and being able to provide these to society.
Freelancers are independent professionals who provide UK businesses with skills and resources that are in high-demand; these individuals are proving every day that a flexible workforce is key to ensuring economic growth in light of growing uncertainty and changing technology.
Freelancing as a professional in your field can be one of the best ways to progress your career and increase your earning potential. Find out more about the benefits of working for yourself and how you can make the most out of a freelance career.