Better pay and more work tempt staff to go freelance

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Contractors often say that the freedom to determine their own workload - and the income it brings them - are a perk of their way of working. A new survey has confirmed that this attitude is far from rare, revealing that most freelancers chose to work for themselves for exactly these reasons.

According to a recent survey, 35 per cent of freelancers chose to go it alone in the belief that they would get more work. Another quarter were attracted by the potential for higher pay, meaning that these two factors alone were responsible for tempting nearly six out of ten freelancers into self-employment.

Recruitment agencies remained the most popular source for freelance work, with one in three independent workers saying that that this was how they found future projects. In contrast less than a quarter said they sourced work through job adverts, indicating that effective relationships with agencies are crucial to success as a freelance worker.

Perhaps the decision to enlist the help of others in finding work is a product of recurrent concern - 36 per cent of independent workers said that they were concerned about having a regular income, while a quarter were also worried about finding regular clients. In comparison, even common fears around keeping up with HMRC administration were fairly small, with just 18 per cent citing this as a potential barrier to going freelance.

Self-employed professionals have often said that they relish the chance to decide how much or how little work they they take on, even if that comes with the obligation to manage their own tax affairs. It seems as though most are willing to take on this duty themselves, since relatively few are choosing to work under umbrella companies that would help them manage these responsibilities.

Just 15.5 per cent of freelancers in the study said they were using umbrella service providers, many of whom said that they simply did not want to pay for an umbrella company. However, several also appeared to be unclear on exactly what umbrella firms do and the benefits they can offer.

Nearly 27 per cent of freelance workers admitted that they were not aware of the function of an umbrella firm and another 14.5 per cent do not know how these companies could help them. Some respondents pointed out that they were uncertain about trusting a company with their tax affairs only to find out that a mistake has been made and they now face a damaging bill from HMRC.

By Victoria McDonnell

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