The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) has launched a midlife review service for self-employed workers after research has found there are now 4.8 million of them.

The TPAS review service is a phone appointment that is tailored to the needs of the self-employed, covering topics such as money, work, family and health – backed up by a summary document and online content.

Michelle Cracknell, chief executive of TPAS, said: “Self-employed people do not have the support that some employees receive from their employer so we want to fill this void. We challenged ourselves to design the content of a review that would resonate with the self-employed, where the interaction between work, health, family and money can be much closer with no employer support when life does not go as planned.”

The launch of the service comes after TPAS’s pilot scheme tried to better understand how self-employed people see retirement planning and what it could do to help.

Contrary to other studies, the pilot found that self-employed workers are keen to save into pensions for their retirement.

However, it found that levels of knowledge and confidence about pensions, what to do and how to go about it were low. The majority of the people who took part in the pilot cited the option “I don’t know where to go for help” as the main barrier to retirement saving, with “time pressures” a close second.

This was echoed by Scott Gallacher, chartered financial planner at Leicester-based Rowley Turton, who said: “In my experience, when you actually sit down and speak to anyone about retirement planning they are actually quite keen to set up a pension and make contributions.

“This is especially true for the self-employed who do not benefit from an employer pension scheme and, as they pay their tax directly as opposed to indirectly via PAYE, normally appreciate more than most employed people the tax advantages of pensions.

“Most people simply put stuff off, even something as important as starting a pension, and then when they finally decide to get around to setting up a pension it isn’t always as easy as it should be. There is a confusing array of choice and without the help of an expert adviser it can be a little overwhelming.”

This comes as latest research found that over 15% of the UK labour force is self-employed, with the average age of 47.

However, previous research had suggested that this group may have a lower than average pension provision and some aversion to pension saving.

Alistair McQueen, head of savings and retirement at Aviva, said: “TPAS are leading by example. Those in mid-life are at the vanguard of our increasingly longer working lives; they are the first to navigate the pension freedoms; and they are found to be the most stressed in the country. It’s a population in need of support. Aviva shares TPAS’s ambition to help those in mid-life. We hope others will follow where TPAS and Aviva are leading.”

Aamina Zafar is one of the UK’s leading financial journalists. She has previously worked as a senior reporter at FT’s Financial Adviser. The award-winning journalist writes regularly on the IFA community, mortgages, pensions and financial regulation.

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