The latest ONS figures revealed that the number of self-employed people increased by 98,000 to 4.62 million over the last year – and those freelancers are feeling confident about the future, according to the latest IPSE Freelancer Confidence Index.
Freelance Confidence Bounces Back
The survey, which was conducted by IPSE in association with freelance marketplace Upwork, showed freelance confidence bouncing back, with IPSE’s headline index score indicating that freelancers’ confidence in their business stands at +9.8 and confidence in the UK economy over the next 12 months stands at +6.2.
This is welcome news after the Q3 figures showed that freelancers’ confidence in both their business and the UK economy had dropped markedly, hitting a record low. Although the figures have still not regained the giddy heights of early 2015. More than a third (35%) of freelancers also indicated increased confidence in their business outlook for 2016.
Commenting on the survey results, Chris Bryce, IPSE CEO, said: “It’s great to see freelancers’ confidence in their business and economy bounce back after a significant dip in the autumn. These professionals play a vital role in bringing innovation and specialist expertise to British businesses and they need to be supported. The fact that confidence returned to positive territory after the Government decided to shelve its plans to change the IR35 small business tax, shows just how big an impact government intervention can have on how people feel about running their business.”
What’s Making A Positive Impact?
The research revealed that the top factors freelancers considered to have a positive impact on their business were:
- building their brand and reputation (58.7%)
- innovating their services offered (40.9%).
35.7% of freelancers also said business performance improved in the last three months due to more organisations adopting flexible working practices. However, 60% of freelancers also expect increased business costs in 2016.
An Uneven Picture
However, the Index showed that there are still sections of the freelance industry that are struggling. Although the confidence of those working in skilled professional occupations, such as IT project managers, mechanical engineers and journalists improved, it remained negative overall, and their average quarterly earnings fell by 10.4 per cent in the last year.
Professor Andrew Burke, Dean of Trinity Business School, Trinity College Dublin and co-author of the report, said: “It is good to see freelancers’ confidence returning, but very interesting to observe that the confidence of different freelance occupations diverges so much. The results indicate that freelancing is a diverse grouping and with varying business fortunes and performance.”