New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have revealed that there are over 4.6 million freelancers and self-employed people in the UK, making up 15 per cent of the workforce.
This is an increase of 730,000 people, from 3.8 million in 2000, with around 50 per cent of this figure accounting for those in full-time self-employment and the other 50 per cent by those in part-time self-employment.
By far the highest number of part-time self-employed people have gone into finance and business at 28 per cent, while the next highest is health and social work at just 9 per cent.
Despite suggestions to the contrary, relatively few of these people report negative reasons for becoming self-employed, few indicate that they are looking for alternative employment and among the part-timers, many respondents report that they would prefer not to work full-time. Evidence of under-employment is strongest among younger, male workers, who display a greater degree of dissatisfaction.
A spokesman for the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) claimed that his organisation’s own research has also found soaring numbers of self-employed workers. In fact, freelancers alone contribute £109bn to the UK economy every year.
He added that the research also shows that the self-employed are generally happy with their situation. This was reflected by IPSE’s members, 86 per cent of whom said they’re very satisfied with self-employment.
In fact, only 2 per cent want to work as an employee, saying that being their own boss gives them the flexibility to achieve a better work-life balance, take on the work they want, and ultimately improve their general wellbeing.
IPSE also called on the new Government to pay attention to this segment of the labour market and introduce new policies designed to give them a competitive edge.