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Opperman hints at auto-enrolment via tax returns

The government may be able to use digital tax returns to extend auto-enrolment to the self-employed, according to pensions minister Guy Opperman.

Speaking in a Treasury Committee meeting, Opperman hinted at using Making Tax Digital (MTD) to introduce pension savings options for the self-employed in the future.

Opperman said:

"MTD is a massive project that is on an ongoing basis, but clearly that is going to be one of the greatest levers that we can utilise to address the self-employed in particular.

"Once your tax return is done on a digital basis and in a totally revolutionary way, your ability to do nudges and sidecar versions of savings through a tax return will massively go through the roof."

Auto-enrolment was introduced in October 2012, and has since brought more than 9 million eligible employees into workplace pensions.

However, it does not apply to the 4.8 million self-employed people in the UK, leading to concerns this group could be under-saving for retirement.

The Department for Work and Pensions has previously said it will work to "identify the most effective options" for pension savings for the self-employed, which could include using MTD.

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