The confidence of UK freelancers in their long-term future has been dented, with 35% expressing uncertainty due to IR35 changes and economic instability, reports talent marketplace, Malt.

Malt’s latest ‘Freelancing in Europe 2024’ report reveals that the confidence levels among UK freelancers lag behind the European average, with only 53% feeling secure in their freelancing careers. This figure contrasts starkly with countries like Germany and France, where confidence levels stand at 86% and 75%, respectively.

Impact of Economic Environment

Economic uncertainties have further compounded the challenges faced by UK freelancers. Over half (51%) of freelancers in the UK perceive a slowdown in business opportunities, attributing it to the prevailing economic climate. This sentiment is notably higher than in other European countries, where fewer freelancers report a similar slowdown.

The rollout of IR35 legislation has added to the woes of UK freelancers. Some companies, particularly in financial services, have ceased hiring freelancers altogether, while others prefer European freelancers to circumvent IR35 regulations. Quentin Debavelaere, General Manager for UK, Benelux and Middle East at Malt, highlights how IR35 and economic uncertainties have significantly impacted freelancers, particularly those in creative and consulting fields.

Adapting to Economic Changes

Despite the challenges, freelancers have taken measures to navigate economic uncertainties. Nearly half (48%) of full-time UK freelancers have raised their daily rates to combat inflation. However, part-time freelancers have been more cautious, with only 43% increasing their fees, possibly to maintain supplementary income sources.

While confidence levels vary across industries, certain sectors like Business Consulting, Tech and Data, and Art and Design exhibit strong faith in freelancing as a long-term career choice. Debavelaere underscores the importance of freelancers in delivering services efficiently and cost-effectively, making them appealing to clients seeking flexible solutions.

Future Outlook

Despite current challenges, freelancing continues to be a preferred career path, especially for younger generations valuing flexibility. Large organisations are recognising the value of independent talent, integrating freelancers into their operations. Malt remains committed to supporting the freelancing community amidst evolving economic landscapes.

To explore further insights on freelancing trends across Europe and the UK’s standing among its counterparts, download the report here.