One of the biggest issues facing the self-employed is the volatile nature of their income. In certain sectors a steady amount of revenue can’t be guaranteed.
Depending on the sector they work in incomes can be inconsistent and affected by a number of factors. This inconsistency can make access to financial services and an ability to prepare for the future difficult.
This is why FSB has identified access to financial products and pensions as a key part of their government manifesto. Drawing from their forthcoming research with the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) they have noted that the Government should work with businesses to review how to work with the self-employed.
But just what areas could the Government change to make life easier for self-employed workers?
Access to financial products
FSB believes the Government should look to remove the barriers that many self-employed people face when trying to access certain financial products.
This could for example include more flexible mortgage terms taking a wider range of business assets into account, helping to counteract that self-employed mortgage applicants may struggle to show proof of regular income.
This can help support the self-employed in ways that are catered to them, making life easier and helping them to make better use of their business assets.
The self-employed have been largely excluded from pension auto-enrolment, which is why the Government needs to take steps to ensure that the self-employed have access to different options to save for retirement.
This could include allowing them to opt into private pensions when completing tax self-assessments.
Pensions of this kind should also be accessible to the self-employed, allowing them to draw on them early to supplant a loss in income or a period where their income becomes inconsistent. Such as a tradesman not receiving as many jobs due to seasonal changes for example.
While addressing general pensions is a step in the right direction it is also important to ensure that auto-enrolment is feasible for the self-employed.
The scheme has been successful in drawing attention to the need to save for retirement, however the contribution based method currently in use could hit smaller businesses hard, hindering levels of pay and even the operations of a self-employed business.
The Government should consider other changes based on other factors instead of increasing pension contributions to a level which could be detrimental to business owners. They need to work closely with businesses to find ways and means to help the self-employed to work effectively while still having access to financial services that the rest of the workforce can utilise.