Research reveals UK freelancers cautiously confident about 2015 business prospects

May’s General Election thought to be causing some uncertainty

Business freelancers are cautiously optimistic about the coming year according to a survey conducted by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) and Elance-oDesk.

The survey revealed business performance for freelancers accelerated in October to December 2014, with an increase in average quarterly income of 7.4% on the previous quarter from £27,596 to £29,643 – while average earnings have risen just 1.1% for the entire labour force.

The index asked freelancers to identify confidence levels for the future, relative to current performance as – more confident (100), slightly more confident (50), as confident (0), slightly less confident (-50), a lot less confident (-100).

Most freelancers expect this year to be better than the last for business and the economy but overall confidence levels are not as high as in early 2014. Outlook for the economy has been subject to a consistent fall in confidence from a confidence score of 18 in April to June 2014 to 6 in October to December 2014.

29% of freelancers are as confident in the economy in 2015 as in 2014, whereas 31% are slightly more confident, compared to 23% who are slightly less confident, with 9% much more and 8% much less.

In terms of revenue, 30.2% expect their business revenue to increase, 24.2% to decrease, and 45.6% to stay the same. Freelancers were more confident about contracts with 43.2% expecting them to increase, 21.3% to decrease and 35.5% to stay the same.

Overall the statistics show a cautiously optimistic response, with factors such as the upcoming General Election said to be causing uncertainty for some.

Research manager at IPSE and co-author of The Freelancer Confidence Index, Suneeta Johal, said:

“The survey shows a strong end to 2014 with freelance businesses performing well. The results suggest the number of contracts will continue to grow and capacity for freelancers will increase as demand for services rises.

“However, business confidence among freelancers has fallen and the general perception is the economy will perform only marginally better in 2015, although their own businesses will remain stable. Nearly half of the respondents expect there will be no change in revenue and over half expect input costs to rise over the next 12 months.”

Elance-oDesk UK country manager, Hayley Conick commented: “A key finding from this research was that the freelancers working via online workplaces showed higher levels of confidence in regard to their future earnings prospects.

“These innovative professionals are less dependent on physical location and are therefore taking advantage of a broader amount of opportunities – especially as businesses increasingly use the internet to find talent.”

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