Rise in the number of self-employed workers in the UK mirrored by a reported 12 per cent increase in freelancers

An increase in the number of people becoming self employed has been reflected in a report, which says there are 12% more freelancers in the UK.

Independent research was conducted by Kingston University for PCG, and it demonstrates that firms are taking on more independent professionals to carry out specialist project work.

One in three companies use freelancers every week, the study found, and 41% of firms plan to use them in the next 12 months.

This mirrors the Government's most recent employment figures, which the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published.

The ONS figures highlighted an increase in self-employment along with a drop of 65,000 in the number of these people who are unemployed.

PCG's managing director, John Brazier, said: "The findings from the Kingston report prove that freelancing is now one of the cornerstones of the UK economy.

"This data is especially important now as it shows that in tough economic conditions, the ability to be flexible is critical - both for businesses and individuals looking for work.

"Flexible workers such as contractors and freelancers now account for 6% of the UK's workforce, making it a significant constituency within the UK workforce deserving of a voice at policy making and governmental levels."

The report, which the PCG commissioned, was authored by Kingston University Small Business Research Centre's David Smallbone and John Kitching.

Contractors and freelancers, along with their representative bodies, could be helped by the report, as it could be a powerful tool for engaging with European and national policy makers, according to the PCG.

This year will see the fourth yearly celebration of freelancers, set to take place on National Freelancers Day 2012.

The day, on November 12, and the campaign which runs alongside it, are designed to raise freelancing's profile across the UK among all audiences.

Launched in 2009, National Freelancers Day originally focused on the future of work through UK wide events and webcasts.

In 2010, freeing up potential was the focus. This emphasised the lifestyle choices freelancers make, and the increasing contribution of freelancers to the UK's economy.

NFD 2011, meanwhile, won the Trade Association Forum's coveted Event of the Year Award.

Copyright Press Association 2012