Freelancers’ contribution to the UK economy soared to £119 billion in 2016, an increase from £109 billion in 2015, according to new research published by IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed. This economic contribution is driven by a highly skilled, flexible workforce of two million freelancers – a 43 per cent increase since 2008.

Freelancers, who make up 42 per cent of the wider 4.8 million self-employed population, continue to be the fastest-growing segment of self-employment with a collective economic output comparable to that of the entire motor sales industry. They have a highly skilled, specialised and widespread presence across all professional groups and this too was represented in the findings. The largest single freelance group in the UK are those within artistic, literary and media professions making up 15 per cent of all freelancers.

The fastest growing occupations since 2008 are health professions which have seen a significant 191 per cent increase. Artistic, literary and media roles and sports and fitness professions have also seen a 103 per cent increase respectively.

Other key findings include:

  • Numbers of female freelancers increased by 55 per cent from 2008, compared to a 36 per cent increase in males
  • 79 per cent growth in mothers working as freelancers since 2008
  • Millennials driving growth following significant 66 per cent increase of freelancers in 16-29 age bracket since 2008
  • The largest proportion of freelancers fall within the 40-49 and 50-59 age brackets – combining to represent 48 per cent of all freelancers
  • Those over the age of 60 account for 20 per cent of all freelancers

The full report can be downloaded from IPSE’s website or from the CRSE's research library.