New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that unemployment in the UK fell to its lowest level in almost a decade in the three months to October, reaching 5.2%.
The level of joblessness, which has not fallen so low since January 2006, tumbled by 110,000 to reach 1.71 million between August and October. There are now 31.3 million people in work, a rise of 505,000 on this time last year.
Concealed within the headline figure, however, is a record high in the number of people choosing contracting, freelancing and other forms of self-employment.
Commenting on the phenomenon, the CEO of IPSE, Chris Bryce, said the figures showed the UK edging toward full employment, due in part to the surge in contracting and other forms of self-employment over the last decade. 4.6 million people currently work for themselves, making up 15% of the labour market and providing “invaluable specialist skills” on a flexible basis.
The contribution made by this army of flexible freelancers to the UK economy, Mr Bryce said, cannot be underestimated. Between them they raise over £21bn every year for the exchequer.
Mr Bryce continued: “Independent professionals and people who work on a freelance basis want their contribution to be valued, and we call on government to adopt policies that create conditions enabling even more people to begin working for themselves. We know from our own research that the vast majority of people who decide to work for themselves would never go back to working for someone else.”
Choosing to practice as an Umbrella Company Employee is, it would seem, becoming more popular than ever.