Pensions minister Guy Opperman has sounded a bullish note that the Government will not back down on its commitment to extend auto-enrolment to the self-employed.
Speaking at a session at the Conservative Party Conference supported by Old Mutual last night, Opperman praised auto-enrolment’s track record, and said that the Government was united on a desire to include the self-employed in the reforms.
Opperman said: “There is no doubt whatsoever that the most important thing is that we extend auto-enrolment to the self-employed. The proposal without any shadow of a doubt is that we should do this.”
Opperman says he will be meeting with Matthew Taylor, author of the Government’s wider review of self-employment trends, to hammer out further details of how plans could work in practice.
Opperman said: “There is no simple solution. If this was an easy black and white solution any Government or any opposition would be able to suggest it in a heartbeat. As always with Government people come to us with problems and what we really need is people coming to us with solutions.
“We start from a very stable place. Yesterday was the fifth birthday of auto-enrolment. To be in a situation where we have eight and a half million signed up is beyond any of our wildest dreams…no-one expected it to be this successful.”
Opperman was given an expanded brief to include financial inclusion when he took on the pension minister role in June.
Also [resenting at the event, Pensions Policy Institute deputy director Sarah Luheshi said one of the main challenges with self-employed auto-enrolment would be around coping with income volatility, and any solution had to be “flexible enough to be able to ebb and flow with that.”
Old Mutual Wealth UK platform chief executive Steven Levin added: “We certainly welcome the approach of extending auto-enrolment to the self-employed market which the Conservative Party put in the manifesto, but the crux of our thoughts on this are that implementation has to be very very carefully considered because it is not something that one can just take the current rules and extend it.”