70% of freelancers expect business boom in 2014, study claims

Report claims high confidence amongst self-employed ‘budgie in the mine’ for economy

Confidence amongst sole traders and freelancers is on the rise, according to a new survey which shows 70% of independent professionals expect the economy to improve over the next year.

The Freelancer Confidence Index, a poll of UK freelancers, contractors and other one-person businesses commissioned by industry body PCG, found that just 6% of respondents expected the economy to get worse across 2014, with around a quarter believing it would stay the same.

Additionally, just over third of freelancers expected their business to be better off over the next 12 months, compared with 11.9% who expected a drop in business.

Across the last three months, the PCG report showed that although the majority of freelancers had not seen a significant change in their business (63%), most had seen a steady flow of work, with 73% reporting they had not been willingly out of contract over the period.

The report’s authors claimed that chancellor George Osborne’s ‘encouraging’ 2014 budget had ‘without a doubt’ cemented freelancers’ optimism about the UK’s future economic prospects.

Despite the optimism over the UK’s economic prospects, most freelancers were not expecting to see a corresponding boost in their rates.

Respondents earned an average of £500 per day, and the majority (77%) saw no change in this over the past three months. Most freelancers also did not expect their rates to increase over the coming year, with 63% expecting the fees they charged to remain steady.

The report claimed that this apparent stagnation in rates charged corresponded to the ‘sluggish’ wage growth seen in the wider UK economy, with rates consistently lagging behind inflation.

PCG said the overall picture emerging from the report was one of ‘cautious optimism’ as top-line economic gains begin to trickle down to small traders and micro-businesses.

Georgios Nikolaidis, economic policy adviser at PCG, said: “Due to their size and the way the sector spans almost every British industry, freelancers provide a unique and important insight into future macroeconomic trends.

“They are effectively the ‘budgie in the mine’ when it comes to our economy.”

 

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