Freelancing Statistics 2024 in the UK

Freelancing Statistics UK 2024 - Side Hustle Trends
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    Freelancing. For those who don’t do it but want to, it may like the dream. Work your own hours, be your own boss, work from wherever takes your fancy. But for those in full time freelance careers, it’s perhaps often the case they focus on the lack of security, no holiday pay and all of the juggling of so many roles.

    There is no doubt that freelance has its pros and cons. But how many people already freelance? And who wants to in the future?

    This is one of many figures we looked at when we polled the public, crunched existing data and pulled together our roundup of freelancing statistics in the UK in 2024.

    Let’s jump right in.

    The Fast Freelancing Facts

    If you’re only looking for a quick fix of figures, here are the headlines we consider the most important freelancing and side hustle statistics. You can find all the background and more information further on down this page:

    • Almost 1 in 20 people in the UK (aged 16 and over) freelance full time for a living
    • There are 7.4 million people freelancing in the UK (either part or full time)
    • Around 2.6 million people in the UK freelance full time for a living
    • 8 million are employed but freelancing on the side
    • 64% of people freelancing in the UK are also employed, according to the statistics
    • In Greater London, more than 1 in 5 people are freelancing
    • 6% of employees across the country are freelancing on the side
    • Almost 1 in 4 people in the UK would like to make an income through freelance in the future
    • Freelancers contribute over £270 billion to the UK economy each year
    • An estimated 15% of freelancers are working Mums

    Our Freelance Survey Question

    In January 2024 we polled 2,001 people in the UK about their freelancing status with the help of an accredited market research company. We asked them:

    “Thinking about freelancing, which of the below best describes you? Please select one.”

     We then gave them a number of different response options and got the following responses:

    Thinking about freelancing, which of the below best describes you?
    Response% who gave this response
    I am currently employed by someone else and freelance on the side as well8.80%
    I am currently employed by someone else and I am not freelancing right now but would like to be in the future21.19%
    I am currently employed by someone else and I am not freelancing right now and would NOT like to be in the future21.04%
    I am currently employed by someone else and I am not sure if I would freelance9.10%
    I am currently freelancing full time for a living4.80%
    I am unemployed, not freelancing but would like to be in the future2.05%
    I am unemployed, not freelancing and would NOT like to in the future3.10%
    I am unemployed, not freelancing and I am not sure if I would freelance3.90%

    Note responses do not add up to 100% as those who prefer not to answer are permitted not to do so.

    Across our respondents:

    • 18% of our respondents describe themselves as currently employed
    • 05% describe themselves as unemployed
    • 80% describe themselves as freelancing full time for a living

    For our research on freelancing, we were primarily interested in those who are already freelancing in any capacity and those who would like to do so in the future. Much of the rest of this page talks about those specific data points.

    How Many Freelancers Are There in the UK?

    Proportion of People in the UK Who Freelance in 2024
    Status% who gave this response
    I am currently employed by someone else and freelance on the side as well8.80%
    I am currently freelancing full time for a living4.80%
    Total freelancing in some capacity13.6%

    Based on our survey, 4.80% of people describe themselves as full time freelance and a further 8.80% describe themselves as employed but also freelancing on the side. That’s 13.6% of 16 and overs in the UK who are doing at least some freelancing.

    There are, according to the 2021 Census figures, 54.7 million people aged 16 and over in the UK. So on that basis, there are 7.4 million people freelancing in the UK.

    people freelancing in the UK 2024 statistics

    64% of freelancers are also employed by someone else as well as doing their own freelance work.

    There is quite considerable variance in who our freelancers are. We looked at the figures:

    Freelancing by Gender

    When we broke down responses of those who freelancing in some capacity by gender, we got the following statistics:

    Proportion of those 16+ in the UK Who are freelancing
    ResponseProportion of MenProportion of Women
    Employed by someone else and freelancing on the side10.41%7.25%
    Freelancing full time for a living5.31%4.31%
    Total freelancing either full time or on the side15.72%11.56%

    freelancers in the UK by gender statistics

    Men are considerably likelier to freelance in either capacity and for both men and women, most freelancers are freelancing on the side of an employed position.

    Freelancing by Age

    Again, in a bid to identify which demographics are the likeliest to be freelancing, we looked at freelancers by age.

    Here’s what we found:

    Proportion of those 16+ in the UK Who are freelancing
    AgeEmployed by someone else and freelancing on the sideFreelancing full time for a livingTotal freelancing either full time or on the side
    16 to 2410.60%6.71%17.31%
    25 to 3417.58%3.03%20.61%
    35 to 4411.46%4.06%15.52%
    45 to 547.67%5.57%13.24%
    55 and over3.71%4.87%8.58%

    proportion of people un the UK who freelance by age statistics

    What’s incredibly exciting to see is the appetite that the youngest members of the workforce have for freelance:

    • Over 1 in 5 of those aged 25 to 34 are freelancing in some capacity, the majority doing so while also being employed by someone else
    • Over 15% of those aged 16 – 24 are freelancing in some capacity too in 2024

    At the other end of the age spectrum, we see a slightly different pattern:

    • The age 55 and over group has the lowest proportion of freelancers (8.58%). However, this is the only age group for which the majority of people who freelance do so full time (as opposed to on the side of a job)

    Freelancers by Region

    As we often find is the case when we research many things, responses differ from region to region within the UK as well.

    Here is the regional breakdown of freelancers across the UK.

    Proportion of those 16+ in the UK Who are freelancing
    RegionEmployed by someone else and freelancing on the sideFreelancing full time for a livingTotal freelancing either full time or on the side
    East of England6.88%4.23%11.11%
    Greater London16.22%4.25%20.47%
    East Midlands7.48%2.72%10.20%
    West Midlands9.55%3.93%13.48%
    North East8.64%9.88%18.52%
    North West6.73%7.62%14.35%
    Northern Ireland10.91%1.82%12.73%
    Scotland8.28%2.37%10.65%
    South East7.92%4.91%12.83%
    South West5.71%4.00%9.71%
    Wales7.37%5.26%12.63%
    Yorkshire and the Humber7.88%6.67%14.55%

    proportion of people in the uk who freelance by region statistics

    Our freelancing statistics show us that Greater London is where the largest proportion (20.47%) of people are freelancing. Outside of London, the North East takes the second spot with 18.52% of people freelancing here.

    At the other end of the scale, the South West is the only region of the UK where fewer than 1 in 10 people (9.71%) are freelancing.

    In most regions, the majority of freelancers are also employed. But this is not the case in the North of England. In both the North East and North West, the majority of people freelancing are doing so full time.

    So we can see huge variations in terms of the likelihood of people taking on freelance work (either on the side or full time) depending upon where in the country they are.

    Side Hustle Statistics – How Many People Are Freelancing on the Side?

    We can see that not far off 1 in 10 people in the UK (8.8%) is employed by someone else but also freelancing on the side.

    Freelancing is one of a number of possible side hustles and we’re seeing increasingly that employees are diversifying (or simply looking to increase) their income.

    If we look just at the 60.18% of our respondents who said they’re employed in some capacity, 14.60% of them are also freelancing on the side.

    We didn’t see too much variation in gender for this particular status.

    Freelance as a Side Hustle By Age

    We moved on to look at the proportion of employees by age who also work as freelancers on the side of their jobs.

    This is what the statistics showed:

    Proportion of those 16+ Employed in the UK and Freelancing
    Age GroupProportion of Employees Who Also Freelance on the Side
    16 to 2414.90%
    25 to 3420.57%
    35 to 4415.10%
    45 to 5411.22%
    55 and over10.39%

    proportion of employees who also freelance on the side by age statistics

    1 in 5 employees aged between 25 and 43 is also freelancing on the side of their full time job.

    This figure falls to the lowest number amongst workers aged 55 and over, but still 1 in 10 employees in this age group is a side-freelancer as well.

    There’s clearly an appetite for having freelance on the side of the day job with the appeal being both extra income but also arguably more security from having income from multiple sources.

    Future Freelance Ambitions

    So we can see there’s already a diverse range of people freelancing either part or full time. But the statistics from our freelancing survey also found that many more people also want to freelance in the future.

    Our survey found that 23.24% of the population in the UK (aged 16 and over) wants to freelance in future. Add that to the 13.6% who are already doing so and that equates to 36.84% of the population who are already or who would like to begin freelancing.

    In other words, over a third have the appetite for freelance as a means of income.

    There’s some difference here between men and women again:

    Proportion of those 16+ in the UK Who Want to Freelance in the Future
    ResponseProportion of MenProportion of Women
    Currently employed and would like to freelance in future23.57%18.90%
    Currently unemployed and would like to freelance in future1.63%2.45%
    Total who would like to freelance in future25.20%21.35%

    % of men and woman who want to freelance in future statistics

    Men are likelier, overall, to have some ambition to freelance in the future. Just over 1 in 5 women would like to freelance while just over 1 in 4 men say the same.

    Freelance Ambitions and Age – The Numbers

    As dived into the data by age as well to find:

    Proportion of those 16+ in the UK Who are want to freelance in future
    AgeCurrently employed and would like to freelance in futureCurrently unemployed and would like to freelance in futureTotal who would like to freelance in the future
    16 to 2430.04%4.24%34.28%
    25 to 3434.24%1.52%35.76%
    35 to 4429.38%2.19%31.57%
    45 to 5424.74%1.39%26.13%
    55 and over7.81%1.66%9.47%

    proportion of people in uk who want to freelance in future by age statistics

    Across all age groups, those who aspire to freelance in future are, in the vast majority of cases, employed.

    It’s the youngest workers who have the highest ambition for freelance.

    Over a third of those aged 16 to 34 hope to freelance in future.

    Freelance Contribution to the Economy

    It’s clear from our own survey findings that the British Public certainly has an appetite for freelancing. from those who are making a full-time income through freelance work, to those who are freelancing on the side of a full-time job  right through to those who haven’t taken their first freelance steps yet but hope to in the future, there’s a significant portion of working age people we can expect to see generating income through this type of work.

    It’s good news! Freelancers are a significant contributor to the economy. We took a look at UK data from Ipse and found:

    • Freelancers contribute an estimated £278 billion to the UK economy annually
    • The UK’s freelance population is 45% female and 55% male
    • An estimated 15% of freelancers are working Mums
    • Most freelancers (i.e over half) have been freelancing for more than 10 years

    Is the Future Freelance?

    Time will tell how many of those who aspired to do so actually become freelancers. One thing we know for sure though, is that the flexibility that freelance offers has its appeals to a working population that, since Covid, has become very familiar with location flexible working.

    If you’re already a freelancer, running your own small business or about to, then contact us today to find out more about our tailored, value driven accountancy services.

    Chris Demetriou

    Chris Demetriou

    Chris is Head of Business Advisory​ at Archimedia Accounts and is a specialist in tax. For more advice book a FREE consultation:

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