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Side hustles on the rise as cost of living crisis continues

More than one in three adults in the UK, or 20 million people, now have multiple incomes, according to research by service provider Utility Warehouse.

By 2025, the research estimates, 47% of the UK’s adult population could be earning an extra income, compared with less than 10% in 2017. 

The most-cited reason for someone to earn multiple income streams was because of the cost of living crisis (35%) followed by the impact of rising household bills (34%). 

Terry Payne, global managing director at recruitment agency, Aspire argued side hustles are both a natural response to tough economic times and a way for people to pursue their passions. 

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “On one hand, that more people are starting side hustles due to the cost of living crisis is reflective of a wider problem: prices have risen significantly and, in some sectors, pay simply hasn’t kept pace.  

“On the other hand, many people still start side businesses as passion projects which they hope will one day generate enough income to support them full-time.” 

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People earned an average of £780 in February 2023 through their side hustle, meaning they could earn £9,360 extra through a second job over a 12-month period. 

Andrew Lindsay, co-CEO of Utility Warehouse, said the rise in side hustles is not wholly due to low wage rates. 

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “It’s worth noting that people earning more from their primary income are more likely to have multiple income sources.  

“The results show that it is not always economic necessity that drives the choice to obtain a secondary income; almost 40% of MIIs have a secondary income to increase their savings while 22% admitted it was to buy more luxury goods.  

“This is compared to the 19% who said it was in order to afford necessities.” 

Nearly a quarter (23%) of those with multiple incomes thought there is a stigma attached to having more than one income and don’t want to talk about it with family or friends. 

Londoners were most likely to earn an extra income at 40%, followed by people in the West Midlands (37.8%) and the South West (36.9%)   

Men were more likely to have multiple incomes than women; 54% of those with multiple incomes are men, compared with 46% of women. 

Payne said employers need to adapt to the shift towards multiple incomes. 

He said: “As long as there’s no conflict of interest and that an employee is performing in their existing role, employers should support multi-income individuals. 

“Preventing them from having a side hustle could backfire – particularly if budget is stopping you from increasing their salary.” 

Lindsay said employers can support staff with multiple incomes by facilitating efficient and flexible working. 

He said:Different employers will have different approaches but everything needs to be centred around trusting and empowering your employees.  

“So whether it’s roles that are remote-first or roles that offer flexible shifts around their busy lives, smarter working is valued by employees and also gives them freedom to explore their passions or hobbies or make an extra income on the side.