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Simpler ISAs could encourage more freelancers to save

29 May 2018

Simpler ISAs could encourage more freelancers to saveSelf-employed people are still far less likely to save than other workers, according to Government figures.

The Savings Income report from the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS ) has found that only 17% of self-employed people have a private pension, compared to 78% of employees. In addition, take-up of the Lifetime ISA (LISA) among the self-employed has been disappointing, it says.

The report recommends a full review of the Independent Savings Account (ISA) landscape and has raised concerns about early exit penalties for LISAs. It has also highlighted the need to improve financial literacy across the UK.

Commenting on the findings, Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: "The huge savings deficit among the self-employed is storing up real trouble for the future. Some had hoped that the LISA would crack the problem. Clearly, that's not been the case. It's good to see the OTS noting our recommendation that the age limit for new LISA contributions should be increased."

Current restrictions around LISAs have been off-putting for many self-employed people, he said. "Because self-employed incomes often fluctuate throughout the year, early exit penalties can put them off taking out a LISA. If you're not always sure where your next piece of work is coming from, not having ready access to your savings is a daunting prospect.

A Lifetime ISA can be used to buy a first home or to save for retirement. Savers must be 18 or over but under 40 and they can put in up to £4,000 each year, until they're 50. The Government adds a 25% bonus to LISA savings, up to a maximum of £1,000 per year.

"Improving the ISA landscape will go some way to improving savings rates among the self-employed," Mike Cherry said. "Over the long-term though, more meaningful intervention is needed to ensure the self-employed are ready for retirement."

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