Are freelancers the backbone of Britain’s economy?

MPs and business leaders have voiced their approval of the freelance economy to mark National Freelancers Day.

The praise marks a deviation from the Coalition’s usual rhetoric of the importance of jobs, with David Cameron calling freelancers “the engine of our economy “.

When it comes to politics and policy the debate is usually framed by both Government and Opposition in terms of full- and part-time employment versus unemployment.

‘The engine of our economy’

Today David Cameron added his voice to the mix:

cameronOur country owes a huge debt of gratitude to the thousands of men and women who have decided to make their living as freelancers and entrepreneurs.

You have not only taken your own future into your own hands, but you are the engine of our economy and economic revival.



Karren Brady, who is the keynote speaker at an event taking place in London for National Freelancers Day, said:

I’m extremely proud to be part of National Freelancers Day and I think it’s important to celebrate the 1.72 million freelancers who contribute hugely to the UK economy.

‘Red tape’

However, in September PCG Chair Julie Stewart criticised the Government’s lack of support for freelancers:

If the government acts to cut the red tape around business, rather than continuing to add to its complexity, this would set free a sector of the workforce who already contribute £88 billion to the UK economy every year.

The number of people freelancing is up 82% in the last ten years and the only thing holding back their contribution to economic growth is unnecessary and outdated legislation.

I don’t get no satisfaction

The Office for National Statistics revealed this week that almost half of recent graduates are in jobs that don’t require a degree.

This could go some way to explaining why an increasing number of people are instead opting to create their own jobs, giving themselves the chance to use what they learned from their degree.


These rising numbers aren’t just benefitting the self-employed people themselves.

For many companies, especially startups, the flexibility of outsourcing to freelancers is a huge advantage.

And recent services like Elance even outsource the process of finding freelancers itself.

Plenty of fish in the pool

Hassle founder Alex Depledge uses oDesk to source freelancers:

AlexAs a startup I need certain skillsets for limited periods of time and at short notice, so the ability to choose freelancers from a resource pool as and when I need them makes all the difference.

I think the freelance economy is just going to grow and grow and grow.

Without this option Hassle would have had a much tougher road to success.

Image Credits: Wikimedia, Adam Harvey, Flickr