Govt urged to act on pension saving as self-employed at record high

Hannah Godfrey reports...

The government has been urged to focus on making pension savings more attractive to those working for themselves as new ONS figures have revealed the number of self-employed workers has reached a record high.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), published today, showed the number of self-employed workers has reached a record high of 4.93 million – up 90,000 between January and March 2019.

Aegon pensions director Steven Cameron (pictured) urged the government to pay attention to the increasing numbers of workers becoming self-employed, pointing out those working for themselves do not benefit from automatic-enrolment, and risk lagging behind when it comes to their retirement savings.

“The government needs to focus urgently on this large proportion of the UK workforce to make pension saving more attractive or many will risk facing retirement with little more than a state pension,” he said.

Elsewhere, the figures showed UK unemployment dropped to 3.8%, the lowest level since 1974. Hargreaves Lansdown senior economist Ben Brettell said the UK labour market had been “remarkably resilient in the face of Brexit-related uncertainty”.

However, despite the growth in employment, low productivity “continues to haunt us”, Brettell continued.

“There are valid concerns that UK firms are hoarding labour instead of much-needed capital expenditure,” he said. “Why would you invest large sums in new plant or machinery in such uncertain times, when you could hire an extra worker and get broadly the same result?

“The ONS report today says that output per hour declined in the first quarter – the third quarterly decline in a row.”