Policies for increasing long-term saving of the self-employed

This report is sponsored by Old Mutual Wealth and looks at recent trends in self-employment to consider alternative policy options for increasing the long-term savings level of the self-employed, with the intention that the output feeds into the automatic enrolment review.

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of individuals in the labour market classified as self-employed, particularly since the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. There is also evidence that the nature of self-employment is changing over time, with some jobs which historically have been undertaken by employees now becoming self-employed. However, this increase in self-employment has been accompanied by a decline in the proportion of this group who are contributing to pensions.

This report constructs a picture of the self-employed, their characteristics and savings levels based upon quantitative analysis of multiple datasets. Three different policy alternatives which could meet the various needs of the self-employed have been explored, along with the potential impact each could have:

  1. Defaulting in: an automatic enrolment style system for the self-employed;
  2. Maintaining workplace pensions: transition from workplace pensions to individual/personal pensions;
  3. Alternative products: engaging the self-employed with alternative products for long-term saving, such as Lifetime ISAs.



Chapter one analyses the evolving self-employed labour market to describe who they are, what they look like and what their attitudes are. By grouping them around key characteristics, a more detailed understanding of their situation and needs can be developed.

Chapter two looks at the saving of the self-employed, how and where they are saving for the future and for retirement.

Chapter three explores how policy alternatives could meet the different needs of various groups within the self-employed labour market. For each policy alternative, its impact is illustrated using case studies


To download the report, please click here.  

To download the technical report, please click here.