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The rise of the ‘silver entrepreneur’

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There are now half a million ‘silver entrepreneurs’, working for themselves beyond retirement age, according to research from Old Mutual Wealth and the Pensions Policy Institute.

One in ten of the UK’s five million self-employed is beyond state pension age, equivalent to 347,000 men and 173,000 women. The number has increased in recent years, with the number of self-employed over state pension age increasing by over 20% since 2013, up from 432,000.

Overall, more than one million more people have become self-employed since the 2008 financial crisis, with the Baby Boomer generation (those aged 50-69) seeing the fastest growth who now account for 1.9 million of the UK’S 4.8 million self-employed. See’s Plan to work past state pension age? The key facts for more information.

Jon Greer, head of retirement policy at Old Mutual Wealth said the self-employed are key to the forthcoming review of auto-enrolment policy: “Our approach to work and retirement is changing. Many people are now choosing to phase-out their career and combine work and retirement, rather than simply dropping out of the workforce altogether and going straight into full-time retirement. This trend extends to the self-employed, with silver entrepreneurs now numbering around half a million.

“We’re working longer for all sorts of reasons. Because we value the health benefits, don’t feel ready to finish working or because rising life expectancy means we need to save more.

“But we can’t ignore the fact that some people are working longer because they can’t afford to retire. That is why the forthcoming auto-enrolment review is crucial. The government need to ensure that today’s 30, 40 and 50 year old self-employed are saving into a pension so that they can choose when to retire, whether in their 60s, 70s or beyond.”

Around two million self-employed would meet the current eligibility thresholds for an automatic-enrolment type approach. The report showed that the self–employed are less reliant on – and enthusiastic about – pensions. Only 28% of them believe pensions are the safest way to save, compared with 52% of employees.

Pensions minister Guy Opperman said the government will push ahead with auto-enrolment for the self-employed. He added that it was considering options to allow the self-employed to access a certain amount of their pensions early.

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