Empowering the Freelance Economy

Freelancers, take a bow. You will contribute £125bn to the UK’s economic recovery. But which age group is leading the way?

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Self-employed workers and side hustlers are estimated to contribute £125 billion to drive the UK’s economic recovery in 2021, according to a report by Mettle, Natwest’s e-money account geared for the UK’s self-employed, and YouGov.

  • The survey* results showed that small businesses are set to be a key part of the economic recovery for the UK in 2021.
  • Those aged 55 and over, are leading the way in self-employment, with 38% of limited companies and side hustles formed post-March 2020 having been established by that age group.
  • Around 25% of all UK adults now consider themselves to be a side hustler, according to Henley Business School.

Most popular motivations for going solo were:

  • The flexibility and freedom it provided (57%)
  • The desire for a change in work/life balance (38%) 
  • Wanting more meaning and purpose in their life (24%)

Alongside self-employed and side hustlers who are estimated to contribute £125 million, it’s thought that small and medium-sized businesses will contribute approximately £310.46 billion back into the economy.

In 2019, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) found over 1.1 million people either had two jobs or running their own self-employed business on the side of another job. COVID-19 has only accelerated this and the growth of the self-employed and side hustler movement, according to the report. 

Mettle & YouGov

“Changes in employment and lifestyles such as furlough and redundancy are pushing more people to work for themselves than ever before. The population of self-employed workers in the UK now sits at over five million, making up 15% of the UK’s workforce,” said Mettle.

“More people are choosing to start or create something of their own more than ever before due to changing lifestyles, personal circumstances, or fulfilling a personal ambition,” said Marieke Flament, CEO Mettle. “This research highlights the importance of this growing movement for the UK’s economic recovery in 2021 – particularly amongst the over 55 age group.”

Having a ‘side hustle’ in addition to a full-time job has for the first time for many, become a necessity to supplement income.

Challenger banks – are they helping?

A total of 83% of respondents who use challenger bank services said they feel supported by them and felt this was because of the ability to do everything virtually, their bank’s ability to get things done quickly (61%) and the fact that their innovative technology and products are more compatible with their business needs (51%).

“The smallest end of the SME market has historically been underserved in terms of business banking, with the majority of incumbent institutions focusing on large commercial customers and corporates. This made it difficult for small business owners to get set up quickly, get paid and tax ready. We champion self-employed workers and side hustlers and are dedicated to building our product to serve them and their needs.” said Flament.

Mettle has released a number of features to help make running business easier, like putting money aside from your main account with Money Pots, making payments easier with Apple Pay and Google Pay and offering integrations with accounting software like FreeAgent and Xero.

*Total sample size was 2194 adults, who were small business owners (in businesses up to 49 employees) or self-employed.


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