Self-employed population nears 5m

The number of self-employed people in the UK is inching ever closer to the five million milestone, official statistics show.

The Office for National Statistics' final labour market survey of the decade showed a record 4.96m people were registered as self-employed.

That means 15.1% of all workers in the UK are their own boss in December 2019 - an increase of around 182,000 on this time last year.

This year-on-year rise in the number of self-employed people was two-thirds larger than the annual increase in the number of employees.

More people registering as self-employed, however, results in more people missing out on valuable employer contributions from workplace pensions.

While the new government pledged to launch a review into how it can better support the self-employed, it did not mention pension provision.

Steve Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, said:

"The UK is fast approaching the five million [self-employed] milestone. That's five million people excluded from the benefits of auto-enrolment.

"The growth in the self-employed does not come without significant challenges, particularly when it comes to saving for retirement.

"There is a clear divide between employees enrolled into a workplace pension and the self-employed, who do not benefit from auto-enrolment and the boosts to their retirement savings that come with employer contributions.

"Much more needs to be done to address this inequality and make pension savings the ‘default' for these workers."

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