While the wider economic fortunes of the UK continue to grow steadily, the number of freelancers, contractors, and other self-employed Britons continues to flounder, according to the figures released by the ONS. The number of freelance workers within the UK is now considered to be 4.5 million.
With 26,000 individuals leaving self-employment over the course of the last three months to August, the overall freelancing sector has reverted to its pre-recession population overall. However, this isn't the case for every industry and sub-sector, as more lower-skilled contract workers, those who turned to self-employment out of necessity after losing their positions in the credit crisis, are likely to be returning to the relative safety and security of traditional employment methods. However, more skilled or niche contract workers like freelance journalists or IT contractors are much more likely to continue working as self-employed thanks to their higher wage-earning capability and the flexibility the freelance lifestyle affords them.
Chris Bryce, chief executive for the Association of Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE), responded to the new ONS figures by expressing concern about the seven-month-long drop in freelance personnel figures despite the more general improvements in the labour market. The IPSE chief expressed his belief that this drop in contractor numbers is unlikely to be a long term trend, and that a "modest" improvement in self-employed numbers for this quarter supports his confidence.
Mr. Bryce concluded his remarks by calling on the Government to reverse recent decisions made with the summer Budget; doing sowould once again demonstrate continued support for the nation's self-employed, he added.
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