Pensions  

Tpas pushes for MOT for self-employed

Tpas pushes for MOT for self-employed

The Pensions Advisory Service is campaigning for a mid-life MOT to support self-employed people in retirement.

The body said self-employed workers faced a set of specific challenges which could make it difficult to plan for retirement.

This included fluctuating income due to seasonal changes, competition or ill-health, and a heavy reliance on personal savings or capital when starting up or when income is limited.

Following the recommendation for a mid-life MOT outlined in the Cridland Review of State Pension age, four organisations – Aviva, Legal & General, Tpas and Mercer – developed and tested how the concept could be delivered in practice. 

Michelle Cracknell, chief executive of Tpas, said: "When thinking about the mid-life MOT, and potential opportunities to support self-employed people, Tpas considered the different needs of the self-employed population. We wanted to recognise that they have different starting points, levels of understanding and awareness and will have different formal and informal networks for personal and financial support.

"From the feedback that we received from the self-employed people that took part in the pilot, and our experience that we have from our helpline, we believe that there are two essential ingredients to help people save for their retirement: an intervention in the form of a personal invitation for a mid-life review that offers the opportunity to talk about pensions and the opportunities in planning for retirement; [and] independent and impartial guidance that provides a foundation of pension knowledge that helps people make informed decisions."

There are about five million people in the UK who are classified as self-employed. This figure is rising steadily year-on-year, reflecting a shift in the nature of work for many people.

Tpas’ latest research—which was conducted with the Centre for Ageing Better—concluded the self-employed were not a homogenous group, they were involved in a wide variety of occupations, sectors and industries, which could include sole-traders, part-time workers, entrepreneurs and those who are employed with a second job. 

The largest sector was the construction industry but there were increasing numbers of self-employed workers in the technology, advertising and banking sectors.

Ms Cracknell believes retirement provision for the self-employed is significantly below that for people in employment. 

Tpas had launched a campaign at the beginning of the year to raise awareness about the low levels of pension saving among the self-employed.

Tpas's latest analysis cautioned that almost half of interviewed self-employed workers had no plans in place for retirement but, it added, encouragingly, two-thirds wanted to improve their pension position and check they were on the right path.

Ms Cracknell said: "There is low engagement in the self-employed due to low levels of trust making it difficult for them to engage with the pension world to set up their own pension arrangements. Unlike employees, there is no employer to take responsibility or ‘nudge’ individuals into pension saving.