The IPSE’s (Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed) latest data found that the growth of highly skilled freelancers is outstripping overall self-employment growth, which increased by 34% to 4.8 million since 2008.
Other key findings revealed that:
- There are 4.8 million self-employed in the UK (14% of the total UK workforce) – 4.4 million of which work on their own without employees (the solo self-employed)
- 46% of the solo self-employed are highly skilled freelancers
- The average age of freelancers is 47 (46 for general solo self-employed)
- Freelancers are 43% female and 57% male (35% to 65% for the solo self-employed)
- The number of female freelancers has grown by 67% since 2008, compared to 33% for male freelancers
- The highest proportion of freelancers (24%) are in South East England, followed by London (20%) and South West England (10%)
- The largest number of freelancers (320,000) work in artistic, literary and media occupations, followed by managers and proprietors in other services (236,000), functional managers and directors (135,000) and teaching and education professionals (134,000).
Commenting on the recent findings, IPSE CEO Chris Bryce said, “This highly detailed study comes at a crucial time. While the Brexit negotiations push ahead, it serves to highlight just how important the self-employed are to the UK. With solo self-employed people contributing £271 billion to the economy – and freelancers alone contributing at least £125bn – the Government simply cannot afford not to prioritise the wellbeing of this dynamic and remarkably productive sector.
“The report goes a long way to dispelling the myth that activity in the self-employment sector is occurring mainly in the ‘platform’ or ‘gig’ economies, when the real growth is in highly skilled freelancer occupations.”
He added, “The rise of self-employed working women – especially freelance mothers – demonstrates that self-employment is a viable way to increase workforce participation. People value flexibility, which is one reason why more people than ever before are moving into freelancing and taking the opportunity to fit their work around their lives. And right now, the Government must do all it can to enable and protect freelancers and the self-employed – both in the Brexit negotiations and beyond.”
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