UK self-employed in "la la land" about pensions

24 February 2017

UK self-employed in "la la land" about pensionsA global study of the savings habits of self-employed people has found that freelancers in the UK are woefully unprepared for retirement.

The research, carried out by Aegon in 15 countries across the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia, highlights significant differences in attitudes to saving for retirement.

The findings show that the UK (with 4.6 million self-employed workers) is lagging behind compared to other countries when it comes to pension savings. 75% of the self-employed are not regularly saving for retirement, and only 15% of UK respondents saying they are "very optimistic" about having money to live on in retirement.

This puts the UK in 14th place out of 15 countries when it comes to self-employed people saving for retirement.

However, the poll also shows that British self-employed people say they enjoy greater freedom than employed workers, and half of those surveyed were optimistic about the timing of their retirement. Although 53% said they'd still be working after age 65, they cited positive reasons for doing so, such as keeping their brain active or because they enjoyed their career. Only one in ten (9%) said they would never retire.

But self-employed people are living in "la la land", according to the report. They are also missing out when it comes to the introduction of auto-enrolment workplace pensions. These reforms "come with a further sting in the tail", says Aegon. "As well as missing out on valuable employer and Government contributions, those self-employed business owners who employ staff have to pay for their employees' pension contributions."

Kate Smith, head of pensions at Aegon, said: "Against a backdrop of rapidly increasing numbers of self-employed in the UK, there's a growing concern that this group are increasingly likely to struggle with inadequate retirement income when they eventually give up working.

"The self-employed face unique challenges when it comes to saving for retirement. As well as missing out on a lifetime of employer contributions, a variable income means many don't have certainty of how much they'll earn from one month to the next, making saving difficult."