Labour shadow ministers have met with business leaders in a bid to tackle a crisis in self-employed access to mortgages and pensions.
The meeting took place in London and shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves said she wanted to “break down barriers” to financial services products.
The latest Office for National Statistics data show those classed as self-employed have risen 13 per cent since 2010 to 4.2 million people by January 2013.
But only 22 per cent contributed to a pension in 2012/13, down from 62 per cent in 1996/7. The participation rate was at 35 per cent in 2005/6.
The Pensions Policy Institute has warned auto-enrolment will not be enough to boost take-up among self-employed people, who are not captured by the reforms.
One in five say they have struggled to get a mortgage because they are self-employed, particularly after tough new income verification rules were introduced as part of the mortgage market review. Some lenders demand up to 12 months of accounts to get a mortgage, verified by an accountant.
Reeves says: “Labour wants to break down the barriers which millions of self-employed people face when they are try to apply for a mortgage or save for a pension. We’re holding this summit to ensure the next Labour government does everything it can to help self-employed people to succeed.”
Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna says: “All too often self-employed people are being held back and ignored by government and we’ve seen entire programmes put in place by ministers which fail to take their needs into account.”