PAYE umbrella contractors may be heartened by a new report from the internet freelance jobs market Elance, which reveals that the UK tops the poll of European countries so far as hiring freelancers to work online is concerned.

UK businesses increased their hiring of web-based freelancers by 55% since the third quarter of 2010, according to Elance’s own data contained in its recently published European Online Employment Report. This places the UK ahead of the next biggest online freelancer-hunter, Germany, which in turn is followed by Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Elance CEO Fabio Rosati said that the report’s findings place the UK “at the forefront” of the trend for hiring online workers in Europe. He added “Across the country, businesses are embracing the flexibility that a freelance workforce offers and contractors are snapping up opportunities to work online at a time when traditional employment routes are flat-lining.”

It appears that more companies are turning to flexible workers from umbrella companies and other freelancers to help them complete projects and fill skills gaps quickly and efficiently. According to Mr Fabio, “Across our platform, companies are using freelancers to change the way they work and succeed like never before.”

Businesses in London hired the most contractors from Elance within the UK, but impressive growth was also seen in Birmingham (89%), Reading (59%) and Edinburgh (40%).

Specialists in IT contracting might be interested to find that the most sought-after roles were for PHP programmers and WordPress programmers.

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