UK freelancers to earn more in 2021

Remote working from home. Freelancer workplace in kitchen with laptop, cup of coffee, spectacles. Concept of distance learning, isolation, female business, shopping online. Close up of woman hands.
Online jobs marketplace PeoplePerHour found that 60% of business owners said they plan to use more freelancers in 2021. Photo: Getty

Freelancers working in the UK are set to earn more this year amid a rise in demand for their services and more opportunities on offer, a new nationwide survey has revealed.

Online jobs marketplace PeoplePerHour found that 60% of business owners said they plan to use more freelancers in 2021, rising from almost half of company owners using freelancers last year.

According to the data, the most common reason (67%) for using freelancers was to introduce skills the business didn’t have in-house. Some 42% of owners took advantage of flexible talent to speed up projects, while a third (35%) said the reason they used freelancers was to save money.

Just over a quarter (28%) also said they had turned to freelancers to help move their business online last year as the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated a shift away from traditional bricks-and-mortar.

The survey, involving 500 business owners and 1000 freelancers, also discovered that 65% of freelancers said they expect their earnings to increase in 2021 and 40% felt the current climate was right to increase their rates.

The PeoplePerHour website recorded an increase in interest this year with freelancer registrations up 111% year-on-year.

READ MORE: One in five highly-skilled freelancers could lose their business, survey finds

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 employment in the UK has fallen at its fastest pace in a decade from close to record highs in 2019. Since February 2020, just as the pandemic first hit, the number of payrolled employees has also dropped by more than 800,000.

Meanwhile the claimant count— including those claiming unemployment- and low pay-related benefits — rose by 64,300 to reach 2.7 million.

Despite the pandemic pushing one in six people out of work and into freelancing the vast majority (48%) said they made the switch to become their own boss, while 43% said they wanted to gain more flexibility in their work-life.

A fifth of freelancers said they took on more contracts in 2020. However, in the coming year there will also be more people vying for work. According to the research, 57% of freelancers have seen more competition for work since March 2020.

“2021 really could be the year of the freelancer,” said Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder of PeoplePerHour. “Businesses are increasingly experiencing the benefits of using a more flexible workforce and people are taking the opportunity to take control of their work-life. Our research and recent performance clearly indicates there is every reason to believe that the freelance community will continue to grow over the next few years.”

“However, to be successful, it’s critical that people looking to make a success of a freelance career understand their skills and strengths and find the right company fit if they want to succeed in an increasingly competitive market. Freelancers offer true value, speed, and flexibility to organisations they assist, and next year this will be recognised even further."

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