Freelancers contributing more to economy than ever before

Recognised as the fastest growing labour force in Europe by the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation & Development (OECD), the UK’s 1.72 million-strong freelance workforce contributes a healthy chunk of the financial recovery within Europe.

Cameron, Boris and Business Ambassador Karen Brady have all enthusiastically proclaimed their gratitude and support for freelancers in the run-up to National Freelancers Day (November 21st), highlighting the often-overlooked contribution from the intrepid freelancer.

While recognition from Cameron as the engine behind the recovery and salutations from London’s Mayor for our ‘immense’ involvement are nice, you can’t help but feel that these politicians’ feelings should be reflected more in their actions than their speeches.

Director of Policy and Public Affairs at PCG (the body that represents freelancers at Government level) Simon McVicker, recently said that “The way we work is changing and unless policy, legislation and business practices change with it, we risk clipping the wings of the very sector of our workforce best placed to create growth and prosperity for our collective economy.”

Despite recognition of a sector that has continued to flourish in the wake of recession – with the total revenue earned by freelancers growing 27.4 per cent since 2011 – not enough is being done to support our actual working conditions.

You could even make the argument that, despite the noise that Cameron, Boris and co. have made, they are actually making it more difficult for freelancers to operate legitimately.

Tighter controls restricting freelancers working for companies in the Public Sector have been introduced in the past 18 months, with many government departments and even the BBC placing their long-term freelancers onto company payroll. There are worries this trend could begin creeping into the private sector too.

With a contribution in 2011 of £88 billion to the UK economy, more effort should be made to ensure freelancing remains a fast-growing and profitable industry – not one that is artificially limited by red tape.

Calum Morrison, business writer, Crunch Accounting