IR35 reforms and the pandemic have taken its toll on the self-employed. Our research into the self-employed landscape reveals the true impact to policymakers and allows for greater understanding of demographic shifts in the sector.
At IPSE we strive to understand the sector as much as possible through our research programme. Each year we conduct research with Kingston University to understand the demographics of both the overall solo self-employed sector and the highly skilled subset of freelancers. Through this research we also look at changes from the previous year and since 2008, when we released our first report.
In addition to our annual research we also run projects to understand why so many people are choosing to go freelance, how they work and where they work. You can find all of our reports looking at the who, the why and the how of self-employment in the sections below.
You can find our latest research into areas such as the impact of IR35 reforms, assessing the concerns of umbrella company workers and our work in understanding support gaps throughout the pandemic.
Almost half of clients reported that their business could not achieve the same outcomes without the use of contractors.
Over a third of contractors have left self-employment since the changes to IR35 in the private sector.
Over half of freelancers do not feel supported by the government.
The total solo self-employed population has shrunk by five per cent for the second year running.
IR35 Spotlight 2023: Insights from the UK's contracting sector
IPSE’s annual IR35 Spotlight tracks key metrics related to IR35, including the ways contractors work, their client’s approach to the rules and the success rate of appeals against client determinations. The aim is to be able to report IR35’s long-term impact on UK contracting.
Making the case for freelancers: Evaluating their role in the modern economy and challenging the stigma around self-employment
This report assesses the role that freelancers play in providing value for businesses whilst evaluating the attitudes of employees to those that work for themselves and the likelihood of these employees to enter self-employment.
The umbrella company market: Assessing the attitudes and concerns of umbrella company workers
This report assesses the impact of increased umbrella company use amongst the self-employed sector by evaluating satisfaction levels with a range of different aspects of umbrella company use, reviewing the onboarding process and the provision of key documents whilst also highlighting some of the areas of concern within the unregulated market.
The client's perspective: Assessing the impact of IR35 reforms in the private sector
The report assesses the impact of the IR35 reforms in the private sector on clients by assessing how engagements and IR35 determinations have changed over the last 12 months whilst evaluating the implications of IR35 compliance for clients. The report also explores the intentions of clients regarding contractor engagement for the next 12 months and for the foreseeable future.
The Self-Employed Landscape Report 2021
This new report looks at the demographic and occupational trends of the solo self-employed sector in the UK in 2021 with a focus on highly skilled freelancers. It highlights some of the key changes over the last year and since 2008. The report was developed using data from the Labour Force Survey extracted by Kingston University.
Taking stock: Assessing the impact of IR35 reforms in the private sector
The report examines the impact of the changes to IR35 across the self-employment sector by evaluating how engagements have changed since the introduction of the reforms, how companies are making status determinations and the impact that the changes have had on freelancers and their incomes. The report also explores levels of satisfaction for those now working through umbrella companies on a range of different aspects and highlights some of the areas for concern.
Supporting the self-employed: Assessing the concerns and support needs of the sector
The report examines how concerns have changed in light of the pandemic and IR35 reforms and what further support and benefits freelancers now require to make a success of their businesses. It also reviews the extent to which freelancers feel supported by the UK government and concludes with a series of recommendations on how government and industry can better support the sector.
Lockdowns and support gaps: Counting the cost of the pandemic on self-employment
This report examines the impact of the pandemic, over a year on from its onset, on freelancers’ businesses and income whilst also reviewing the approaches taken by freelancers to mitigate against the pandemic and their plans for the future. The report also focuses on how the pandemic and gaps in economic support have influenced freelancers' attitudes towards government.Read the report
Opening of the UK economy
As we enter the next stage of the government's roadmap out of lockdown, we examine the impact that the lifting of restrictions has had on freelancers. This report also seeks to understand how long freelancers predict it will take before their businesses are operating at pre-pandemic levels and what concerns they have as they start to rebuild.
The Self-Employed Landscape Report 2020
This new report looks at the demographic and occupational trends of the solo self-employed sector in the UK in 2020 with a focus on highly skilled freelancers. It highlights some of the key changes over the last year and since 2008. The report was developed using data from the Labour Force Survey extracted by Kingston University.
The Self-Employed Landscape Report 2019
The 2019 report looks at the demographic and occupational trends of the solo self-employed sector in the UK in 2019 with a focus on highly skilled freelancers. It highlights some of the key changes between 2018 and 2019 and since 2008. The report was developed using data from the Labour Force Survey extracted by Kingston University.
What makes a freelancer?
‘What makes a freelancer?’ explores some of the key reasons that the UK population are increasingly turning to freelancing. It also highlights some of the challenges they encounter in self-employment and the areas where freelancers need more support.