By Daniel Hunter

Small businesses in Britain are increasingly outsourcing work to a global network of skilled but inexpensive consultants and freelancers in a bid to cut costs and keep trading, as banks miss their lending targets, according to figures released by

UK businesses increased their spending on freelancers by 134% in the year, a clear signal that they are urgently hiring more skilled workers for less. The figures reveal that more small businesses are taking advantage of skilled consultants from a network of 234 countries, making UK businesses the second largest employers of freelancers in the world.

The news comes on the back of the five main banks missing their Project Merlin target for lending to smaller firms by more than a billion pounds, and a 25% rise in the number of UK firms running into severe financial trouble in the final quarter of 2011 compared to the same time last year.

According to Saif Bonar, UK Manager, these figures show that small businesses are increasingly operating at the global level to survive.

“With a global workforce of more than three million highly skilled but affordable freelancers, it is little wonder that Britain’s small businesses have started outsourcing their work to secure and boost the bottom line,"Bonar said.

"They are increasingly taking advantage of freelancers offering a range of skills to support their businesses. Without them bankruptcy rates in the UK could be much higher.

“With Government support and lending from banks coming up short, small businesses have realised if they don’t outsource they won’t survive. With small and medium enterprises comprising 99.9% of the total of UK businesses, they are not only central to the British economy, supporting millions of jobs and livelihoods, but key to warding off a double-dip recession.”

The survey found that small businesses increased demand for app development and mobile jobs by 226%, with Android jobs growing by more than 146%. Businesses also increased their use of data mining, rising 162%, while HTML5 jobs increased by a staggering 105% and will accelerate in 2012 as it replaces Adobe’s Flash as the powerhouse of online work.

The survey found very strong demand for marketing services with Internet marketing up 110%, while jobs related to online marketing, such as link building was up 89% and SEO up 72%.

Data entry jobs soared 36% as did data processing up 26% on the back of start-ups ramping up their market research and competitive analysis, creating an information services boom in the process.

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