Guest Comment: Getting the self-employed to save

Before we all left for the Christmas break, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) gifted us with an early present – its much-anticipated report on Enabling Retirement Savings for the Self-Employed.

This is an issue that is close to the heart of the Association of British Insurers (ABI), which is why we jointly hosted a TechSprint with the DWP and Treasury at Aviva’s digital garage in Hoxton, to try to tackle the issue head-on using innovation, tech and a collection of some of the brightest brains in the industry.

The report rightly identifies the fact that the self-employed workforce is growing rapidly, whilst their participation in a pension scheme is decreasing even more rapidly. This is worrying and is in stark contrast to the workplace pension scheme trend.

Some were quick to criticise the report for not moving toward an auto-enrolment style model, but we have to be careful to avoid assuming that what has worked for workplace employees will work just as well for everyone else.

An innovative, ever-changing workforce requires innovative, flexible savings solutions. It’s great to see the report take forward a number of trials that include testing communications, marketing interventions and behavioural prompts whilst harnessing technology to make it easier for the self-employed to save – rather than forcing the habit.

As ever, the proof will be in the pudding and we look forward to working with the government and industry to deliver new savings solutions for the self-employed.

ABI policy adviser, retirement and savings policy, Reuben Overmark

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