Freelancers contribute £119bn to the UK economy

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Freelancers contributed £119billion to the economy in 2016

Freelancers contributed £119billion to the economy in 2016, a rise of £10billion from the previous year, according to a study by industry body IPSE.It said the contribution was driven by a highly skilled flexible workforce of two million freelancers – a 43 per cent increase since 2008.Freelancers continue to be the fastest-growing segment of the wider 4.8 million self-employed population, making up 42 per cent of the sector and with a collective economic output ‘comparable to that of the entire motor sales industry’, IPSE said.

Growing market: Freelancers contributed £119billion to the economy in 2016, a rise of £10billion from the previous yearThe number of female freelancers has increased by 55 per cent from 2008, against 36 per cent for men. And there has been a 79 per cent increase in mothers working as freelancers since 2008.Chris Bryce, chief executive of IPSE, which represents the self-employed, including freelancers, contractors, consultants and independent professionals, said: ‘At a vital time when the economy needs to be dynamic in the face of growing uncertainty, freelancers are providing on-demand resources to businesses, allowing them to be flexible in response to change.
‘The majority of freelancers love what they do, so it’s no surprise that increasing numbers of people are turning to this way of working.’Meanwhile, ‘Millennials’ – also known as Generation Y, the demographic cohort following Generation X – have also driven the growth, with a 66 per cent rise in freelancers aged 26-29 since 2008.The largest proportion of freelancers still falls within the 40-49 and 50-59 age brackets, accounting for 48 per cent of the industry.The fastest-growing freelance occupations since 2008 were among health professionals, where there was a 191 per cent rise. Artistic, literary and media roles and sports and fitness professions have also seen a 103 per cent increase respectively.

Charlie Mullins, the Managing Director of Pimlico PlumbersBryce added: ‘It is exciting to see that the younger generation has been enlivened by the prospect of working for themselves. It’s important their choice is recognised and policy makers support this trend rather than maintaining a less flexible employment model.’Meanwhile, employment lawyers, who are still eagerly awaiting the Government’s review of evidence on the ‘gig economy’, have said a recent ruling that a tradesman at Pimlico Plumbers was a ‘worker’ rather than self-employed is likely to be a leading case on employment status for years to come. 
Earlier this month, the Appeal Court upheld an employment tribunal ruling that the plumber, Gary Smith, was a worker.Charlie Mullins, the founder of Pimlico Plumbers, revealed in the wake of losing the landmark case that he wanted to be involved in the review of employment practices that is currently under way.He has disagreed with the view that the ‘gig economy’ is depriving Revenue & Customs of money, and has said that the Government needs to introduce a clearer distinction between an employee and a self-employed contractor.He has requested an urgent meeting with Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts and former Downing Street adviser who has been tasked by Prime Minister Theresa May with reviewing employment practices.