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Press comment: ONS reveals 17% increase in self-employed since auto enrolment


If you are covering the UK employment and labour market statistics for July released today by the ONS, please see the following the comment from Jon Greer, head of retirement policy at Quilter:

Jon GreerThe number of self-employed people in the UK now numbers five million, up more than 17% since auto enrolment was first introduced in 2012*. That is a huge swing in the profile of the workforce and means that hundreds of thousands more people are missing out on building a pension. The Conservative government pledged to address this issue in its 2017 manifesto and it’s crucial that it still does re-assess the way auto-enrolment rules fit around the new profile of the labour market and keep up with the changing nature of employment.

Auto-enrolment has been hugely effective at getting employed people saving for the future. The government’s focus on ensuring persistency rates remain high has seen very few workers captured by the policy choosing to opt-out. That shows the success of its strategy of relying on inertia and phasing up contribution rates.

But as part of a national savings strategy the government must focus on coverage across the whole population, not only on participation rates among eligible workers. The workforce is changing around us, with more people moving into flexible, part-time work and self-employment. Policy needs to keep up with the gig-economy, part-timers, side-hustlers and slashies.

If auto-enrolment fails to keep up with the changing shape of the labour force then it will disproportionately disadvantage women and younger workers. For example, while the employment rate for women is the highest on record, and the number of women working full-time is steadily growing, still over 40% of women in employment are part-time and are therefore more likely to be under the earnings thresholds for auto-enrolment. Likewise, we know that younger people are more likely to be in flexible work with multiple employers or some self-employment and they are equally likely to fall through the gaps in the system, such as the minimum earnings criteria.


*Based on the rise in overall self-employment since Oct 2012

For more information contact

Alex Berry023 8072 626007741

Notes to Editors:

About Quilter plc:

Quilter plc is a leading wealth management business in the UK and internationally, helping to create prosperity for the generations of today and tomorrow.

Quilter plc oversees £118.7 billion in investments (as at 30 September 2019).

It has an adviser and customer offering spanning: financial advice; investment platforms; multi-asset investment solutions; and discretionary fund management.

The business is comprised of two segments: Advice and Wealth Management and Wealth Platforms.

Advice and Wealth Management encompasses the financial advice business, Quilter Financial Planning; the discretionary fund management business, Quilter Cheviot; and Quilter Investors, the Multi-asset investment solutions business.

Wealth Platforms includes Old Mutual Wealth UK platform; Old Mutual International, including AAM Advisory in Singapore; and the Old Mutual Wealth Heritage life assurance business.

The Quilter plc businesses are being re-branded as follows: 

  • Quilter Financial Planning (previously Intrinsic)
  • Quilter Private Client Advisers (previously Old Mutual Wealth Private Client Advisers)
  • Charles Derby Group (becoming Quilter Financial Advisers)
  • Quilter Financial Adviser School
  • Quilter Cheviot
  • Quilter Investors
  • Old Mutual Wealth (becoming Quilter Wealth Solutions in 2020)
  • Old Mutual International (becoming Quilter International in 2020)

This press release is for journalists only and should not be relied upon by financial advisers or customers.

Please remember that past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up and investors may not get back any of the amount originally invested. Exchange rate changes may cause the value of overseas investments to rise or fall.

This communication is issued by Quilter plc.  Registered office: Millennium Bridge House, 2 Lambeth Hill, London EC4V 4AJ, United Kingdom. Registered number: 6404270.  Registered in England.