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Exclusive: pensions minister urges self-employed to start saving

Pensions minister Guy Opperman has said that the government is still committed to its manifesto pledge to help the self-employed save for retirement, but in the meantime has urged the self-employed to start pension saving.

Pensions minister Guy Opperman has urged self-employed workers to open pension plans immediately.

In its manifesto for the 2017 election the Conservatives committed to extending auto-enrolment to the self-employed, who at present are not required to have private savings by law. 

'We will continue to extend auto-enrolment to small employers and make it available to the self-employed,' the manifesto said. 

In a video for New Model Adviser®, parliamentary under-secretary for pensions and financial inclusion Opperman restated the government's commitment to the policy, but urged self-employed workers to open pension policies independently.

'Well there is nothing to stop someone who is self-employed from getting their own private pension today, and, while we definitely want to help them going forward, I would urge them to do that in any event,' he said.

'But we are very much committed to the manifesto and to ensuring that the over four million people who are self-employed have the opportunity to have a pension.'

The government commissioned an investigation into the labour market by former Tony Blair adviser Matthew Taylor last year. Taylor later agreed with a paper put forward by Aviva and Royal London that the self-employed should be auto-enrolled via their self-assessment tax returns.

Royal London head of policy Steve Webb later expressed concern the government's response to the Taylor review would not do enough for the self-employed.

'Despite Matthew Taylor’s recommendations, the government response offers little hope for improving the pensions of the self-employed,' he said at the time.

Opperman added, however, the government was sitting down with 'the best brains in the business' to fulfil its manifesto pledge.

'We're working on it, and we are going to comply with it,' he said.

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