The Conservatives have pledged to include the self-employed within auto-enrolment in the Party’s manifesto released today.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has said in recent months it was in favour of including the self-employed in auto-enrolment as it undertakes a review of the system this year.
However no clear plan for how the self-employed would be included had been announced so far.
Now the party has included this policy within its manifesto, it is making a clear signal of intent it will press ahead with this policy.
‘In addition to safeguarding the rising state pension, we will continue to support the successful expansion of auto-enrolled pensions, enabling more people to increase their retirement income with help from their employers and government; we will continue to extend auto-enrolment to small employers and make it available to the self-employed,’ the manifesto said.
The document also stressed its commitment to helping younger people save and specifically mentioned the lifetime ISA which launched last month.
The party also said it would seek to protect workplace pensions from abuse by employers which are 'mismanaging pension schemes', The Pensions Regulator (TPR) will have have the power to give out greater fines.
Triple lock drop
As well as discussing auto-enrolment, the manifesto said the Conservatives would drop the triple lock from 2020.
The policy will have served its purpose by then, the Tories said.
‘We will keep our promise to maintain the triple lock until 2020, and when it expires we will introduce a new double lock, meaning that pensions will rise in line with the earnings that pay for them, or in line with inflation – whichever is highest. We will also ensure that the state pension age reflects increases in life expectancy, while protecting each generation fairly.’
The manifesto also included a policy on social care which would see the value of the family home taken into account in assessing if individuals are eligible for means-tested care.
Along with this, the capital floor cap, currently set at £23,250, will be quadrupled to £100,000 – meaning people can retain this amount, and this includes the value of the family home.
Finally the ability to defer payments for residential care will be extended, so 'no-one will have to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for care’.
‘We believe this powerful combination maximises protection for pensioner households with modest assets, often invested in the family home, while remaining affordable for taxpayers, the manifesto said.
The manifesto also included a proposal to create ‘UK sovereign wealth funds’ which will be used to provide investment for infrastructure and the British economy. The Party said it would encourage pension schemes to join these investment trusts.
The Conservatives pledged not to increase the level of value added tax (VAT) and to continue with the plan to cut corporation tax to 17%.
The party did not include a line on whether or not income tax or national insurance contributions could increase, which was a promise of David Cameron's 2015 election campaign.