London is ‘the place to be’ for freelancers and the self employed

A new report has been published by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE), which shows that the number of freelancers operating within Greater London has grown significantly over the last nine years. Up by 59% in fact! In total, there are now more than two million people in the UK who are self-employed or working for themselves in some way – and 21% of those are based in the nation’s capital.

The figure of 59% growth equates to just under 160,000 more people who are choosing to work for themselves in London, vs the figures recorded in 2008. This makes London the regions with the fastest growth in freelancing anywhere in the country. The report also looked at the average age of freelancers and self-employed people in London, and found that this is slightly lower than the national average – 45 years old, vs 47 for the entire country.

It was also interesting to note that the number of women who are self-employed or freelancing has grown by 55% across the UK in the same time frame – but that increase is 95% when you look at London specifically. Which is quite a significant figure and one we were very pleased to see. Compared to this, the number of men in London who are freelancing or working for themselves in some other way has risen by 40% since 2008.

Commenting on these figures, Chief Executive Officer of IPSE Chris Bryce said, “London is a global powerhouse in innovative, flexible and advanced work. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the capital is a hub for freelancers. There are a large number of supportive communities and co-working spaces in the capital which are changing the freelance game and flexible economy in London for the better.

However, we must all recognise the striking rise in women freelancing in London, and ensure they are properly supported in this way of working. In areas such as Maternity Pay the self-employed receive reduced support. At IPSE we’re working to see this change.”

IPSE also interviewed some of the freelancers who responded to the survey - including Ben Matthews, who is a Director of Montfort, a digital marketing agency in London. “Freelancing gave me the freedom, flexibility and financial benefits that you just don't get with a normal office job,” Ben told them. “I get to choose which clients I work with, can choose when and how I work for them, but get rewarded with a higher income because of the extra risk I'm taking on. You need an entrepreneurial spirit to really make a success of freelancing, but once you're used to the lifestyle it brings substantial benefits for those who make the leap.”

Around a fifth of all freelancers in London (18%) work in the media industry as Ben does – and this sector forms the largest group of freelancers in the country. It’s also worth mentioning that UK freelancers now make an enormous £119 billion contribution to the British economy. Quite an impressive figure we’re sure you will agree – and one which clearly demonstrates that working for yourself, whether as a freelancer or a limited company contractor, is certainly a very appealing and flexible way of living.

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