Self-employment continues to grow

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Over the past few years, there has been a rise in the number of people choosing to work for themselves. A growth in the number of freelancers, start-ups, consultants and contractors has meant that the amount of self-employed professionals has rapidly grown over a fairly short period of time.

New figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) have suggested that this trend isn't going to stop any time soon. According to the numbers, released earlier this month (April 20th), there has been a significant boost in the amount of self-employed professionals since the end of 2015.

The statistics show that 120,000 more people are now choosing to work for themselves in some context. This is according to data taken from the three months leading up to February 2016 and comparing it to figures from the same period in 2015.

Speaking about the continued boom of self-employment, IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed, said it shows a "structural shift" in the jobs market.

Lorence Nye, economist at IPSE, said the latest figures show another rise in the number of people working for themselves and this part of the economy now has a "disproportionately positive effect" on the total number of people in employment across the UK.

“The rise in self-employment has been consistent for a number of years and represents a structural shift in the labour market. It is vital that the government clearly recognises the impact the self-employed are having on the economy and introduces measures that support people who work for themselves," he explained.

Mr Nye also added that people who choose to become self-employed are very unlikely to go back to working for someone else in the future.

He said: “We also know that the vast majority of self-employed people love what they do, and are very unlikely to seek regular employment. This suggests we will continue to see increases in the number of people working independently.”

According to the latest ONS figures, there are now 4.64 million self-employed people in the UK and this number could significantly increase over the next few years. This will continue to have a positive impact on the nation's economy.

Research from IPSE found that freelancers alone are contributing a considerable amount to the UK's purse. In 2015, this group of self-employed professionals earned £109 billion and this is considered to be a "conservative estimate" of their overall revenue.

Launched at IPSE’s flagship policy conference yesterday (April 26th), the research suggests that the contribution of freelancers is often disproportionately higher than that of other businesses as the majority is made up of highly-skilled, specialist workers.

The figures reveal that there has been a 36 per cent increase in the number of freelancers since 2008. This means that six per cent of the overall workforce in the UK was a freelancer in 2015.
 


By Victoria McDonnell

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