Freedom – does it have to come at a financial cost?

Iona Bain

They say money can’t buy happiness, and a growing number of Scots are putting this to the test by quitting lucrative jobs to pursue a more wellrounded life.

Nearly 300,000 people in Scotland now work on a freelance basis according to research from Accord Mortgages and the majority – 72 per cent – say they are much happier for it.

That comes at a financial cost, however. Nearly half of self-employed Scots say they have to be more cautious with money, while 57 per cent say they miss the valuable benefits they once received.

Almost as many are frustrated by the uncertainty of where their next pay cheque will come from.

New data from the Resolution Foundation has shown that the average earnings of freelancers now stand at Pounds 240 a week, falling from Pounds 300 in 2001/02 and 15 per cent less than in 1994.

According to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) and The Freelancer Club, creative freelancers could be most at risk, typically losing Pounds 5,394 in unpaid work each year.

They have typically spent the equivalent of 31 days working for free in the past two years, with many left unable to cover work-related expenses or even basic living costs. Those most likely to be exploited were aged between 16 and 29 and the majority (67 per cent) were women.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon described freelancers as “key drivers” of sustainable growth earlier this year, but was lambasted for mentioning freelancers only once in her flagship strategy for boosting the labour market, unveiled in August.

Adam Waters, senior policy adviser at IPSE, said: “We find the lack of understanding and support for this sector surprising as Nicola Sturgeon and many senior figures within the SNP have on several occasions praised the role of the self-employed and lauded their contribution to the Scottish economy.

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