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28 April 2016

FSB warns of self-employment savings time bomb

A landmark report from FSB has found the UK’s dramatic shift toward self-employment could be saving up long-term retirement problems for the future.

The report found that less than a third of self-employed people are saving into a private pension, with 15 per cent suggesting they do not have retirement savings of any kind.

A quarter plan to rely on their business to fund their retirement, although with many self-employed individuals earning a low income this is unlikely to be a viable solution for all.

FSB is urging ministers to work towards a savings solution for the self-employed, who are not currently being catered for by automatic enrolment - the government programme which is sweeping millions of employees into workplace pensions saving.

"It has never been easier to go it alone and self-employment now stands at the highest level since records began. This should be celebrated as it brings freedom and flexibility to millions of people," said FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry.

“Yet policymakers have been slow to respond to the boom in self-employment and are therefore playing catch up. If we do not act now to adapt to this changing workforce, we will only be shoring up problems for the future.

“In a whole range of areas, the self-employed are akin to round pegs in a system built of square holes. Their ways of working don’t fit with the support frameworks in place. Many are being shut out of financial services like mortgages or personal insurance because they don’t fit the usual mould. More must be done to support these workforce pioneers.”

FSB’s report, ‘Going it alone, moving on up: Supporting self-employment in the UK,’ found huge benefits to deciding to become one's own boss, explaining why more than 15 per cent of the UK workforce has decided to make the move. Self-employment is now at the highest level in 40 years, up from 12 per cent of the workforce in 2000 and eight per cent in 1980.

The biggest benefits listed by the 1600 self-employed people questioned by FSB included freedom and independence at work, a better work-life balance, and the chance to fulfil a personal vision.

But the self-employed face many challenges too, including the uncertainty of not having a fixed or regular income, the lack of safety net if they fall ill or have to take time off, and the need to constantly secure new business.

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