UK Freelancer Statistics 2023

freelance-stats

The UK has in recent years seen an unprecedented rise in the significance of the self-employed and freelance workforce.

These individuals, characterized by their entrepreneurial spirit and diverse skill sets, play an indispensable role in bolstering the UK economy, particularly in an age marked by digital transformation and a growing preference for flexible work arrangements.

General Statistics:

  • There are over 2 million freelancers in the UK as of 2023.
  • Freelancers contribute approximately £125 billion to the UK economy.
  • The majority, 1.77 million, work primarily as freelancers.

Most In-demand Freelance Skills (based on Google search data):

  • Writing, graphic design, and web design are the most sought-after freelance services.
  • Other significant roles include web development, SEO consultancy, photography, and social media management.

Freelancer Roles Popularity:

The sectors dominating the freelance scene are:

  • Business Support (22%)
  • Design (20%)
  • Writing & Translation (17%)

Freelancer Demographics:

  • Artistic, literary, and media roles attract the largest group of freelancers (17%).
  • The average age of freelancers is 49.
  • There's a closer gender balance in freelancing (55% male and 45% female) than the wider self-employed population.

Economic Shifts:

  • There's a notable trend of shifts in the number of freelancers across occupational categories and geographic regions.
  • Notably, the Coronavirus pandemic led to a dip in self-employment levels, reaching figures reminiscent of mid-2015.
  • To aid self-employed individuals during the pandemic, the UK government introduced the Self-Employment Income-Support Scheme, which saw millions of claims, amounting to 14.5 billion British pounds by December 2020.

General Self-Employment in the UK:

  • As of July 2023, the UK houses around 4.24 million self-employed individuals, showing a growth from 3.2 million in 2000 but a decline from a peak of over 5 million in 2020.
  • Historically, there have been more self-employed men than women.
  • The predominant self-employed age bracket is 45-54 years, with over 1.3 million individuals.
  • Geographically, London and South East England are hubs for the self-employed, boasting 757,000 and 644,000 self-employed individuals respectively.

The landscape clearly portrays the importance and versatility of freelancers in the UK's economic and professional scene. However, the impact of the pandemic has been significant, prompting government interventions and reshaping certain aspects of the freelance and self-employment sectors.

General Insights into the UK Freelance Ecosystem

As of 2023, the UK is home to a formidable community of over 2 million freelancers. This indicates not just a shift in traditional employment paradigms but underscores the allure of independence and versatility that freelancing offers.

These freelancers aren't merely a disparate group of individuals. They are collectively a significant economic powerhouse, pouring approximately £125 billion into the UK economy.

Delving into their working arrangements, the majority of them, approximately 1.77 million, have chosen freelancing as their primary occupation, demonstrating the viability of a freelance career.

In-Demand Freelance Professions

The digital age has redefined the market's demands. Writing, graphic design and web design emerge as the most sought-after freelance services, a testament to the importance of content and online presence in contemporary business strategies.

Other services like web development, SEO consultancy and social media management also command a considerable share of the market, highlighting the multifaceted needs of modern businesses.

Popularity and Specialisations within the Freelancer Community

MoneySupermarket's research provides a lens into the preferred sectors among freelancers. Business Support leads the charge, capturing 22% of the market, closely trailed by Design at 20%, and Writing & Translation at 17%.

This distribution is indicative of the backbone services that businesses, especially SMEs, are relying upon in the current business environment.

The Diverse Demography of Freelancers

Occupations like artistic, literary, and media roles attract a substantial portion of freelancers, making up 17% of the total.

An intriguing observation is the relatively balanced gender representation in freelancing (55% male and 45% female) compared to the broader self-employed demographic, potentially suggesting that freelancing offers an inclusive environment for professionals from all backgrounds.

Age-wise, the majority hover around 49 years old, suggesting that freelancing is particularly appealing to those with substantial experience and expertise in their fields.

Economic and Geographic Trends

The impact of global events, notably the Coronavirus pandemic, reverberated through the self-employed sector. There was a discernible decline in numbers post-pandemic, reminiscent of figures from mid-2015.

Geographically, London remains the epicentre of the self-employed and freelance community, with South East England also being a significant hub.

Governmental Support for the Self-Employed

Recognising the pivotal role of self-employed individuals, the UK government rolled out the Self-Employment Income-Support Scheme during the pandemic. It witnessed millions of claims, cumulatively amounting to a staggering £14.5 billion by the end of 2020.

The UK's freelance and self-employed landscape is rich and multifaceted, mirroring the country's entrepreneurial spirit and its adaptability to global changes. As businesses evolve, and as the nature of work continues to transform, the importance of this dynamic workforce is only poised to grow.

Written by

Luke Glassford

Marketing Director

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