Automatic enrolment  

Self-employed trade body shuns auto-enrolment plans

Pension experts are divided on IPSE's views.

Kate Smith, head of pensions at Aegon, said the provider believes that building on the nudge principles from auto-enrolment combined with HMRC’s initiative ‘making tax digital‘ has “a role to play in building solutions for the self-employed”.

She said: “Paying tax more frequently could act as a prompt for people to consider their savings at the same time.”

Sir Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London and former pensions minister, argued that new products such as the sidecar pension “would be entirely welcome”.

However, “they do not fundamentally overcome the barriers which put people off saving, including inertia,” he said.

He added: “Automatic enrolment might not be right for everyone, and people would be free to opt out if they wished, but it could get large numbers of self-employed people started on the journey of pension saving. Without this big behavioural intervention, there is a risk that other policy solutions would only make a marginal difference to a huge problem".

But Tom McPhail, head of policy at Hargreaves Lansdown, said IPSE’s report is and “excellent analysis of the self-employed workers’ retirement saving challenge”, because it recognises there is "no simple one-size-fits-all solution".

"In particular it avoids the call for the government to just auto-enrol everyone through the tax system, which would be extremely difficult to deliver on at this time.”

Alan Chan, director and chartered financial planner at London-based IFS Wealth & Pensions, suggested all the administration associated with auto-enrolment should be stripped out for a self-employed person, such as payroll data uploads and mandatory letters to themselves.

"It makes no sense to burden them with more box-ticking stuff.  They should be allowed to choose any pension, not just an auto-enrolment pension scheme, as long as they are saving at a minimum level as specified under auto-enrolment."

maria.espadinha@ft.com