Claims that contracting through umbrella companies or limited companies is a Hobson’s choice driven by unemployment have been dealt a resounding blow by a new poll, which suggests that the vast majority of contractors actively chose this career path because of the flexibility and choice available.

Redundancy, it appears, is not the cause of the growing popularity of contracting and self-employment. 68% of the 1,600 respondents surveyed in the joint FPS group/ poll said they chose to fly solo as contractors because of the career choices opened up and the increased flexibility on offer. Economic necessity had nothing to do with their decision, they confirmed, which was not connected with the unavailability of nine-to-five permanent roles.

Well over half (60%) said they planned to continue contracting through a PAYE umbrella service or limited company on a long-term basis, which is a result that suggests that contracting is set to continue growing in popularity. 62%, however, conceded they were actively a building a war chest in case worsening economic conditions limited the availability of future assignments. More than a third said they could, if necessary, maintain their current lifestyles for six months if their income temporarily dried up.

The AWR, predictably, got a major thumbs down in the poll, with only 10% reporting that the regulations had benefited them and more than half saying they had not resulted in any discernible positive impact. A small minority of respondents who expressed any positive sentiments about the regulations said they were attempting to benefit from training brought in by the AWR.

So, it is official: people choose contacting because they like it.

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