The new figures, released by The Pensions Regulator, show that over 600,000 employers have complied with their duties in the past year alone. The deadline is approaching for the remaining 150,000 employers, including new businesses set up since the government scheme was launched, to enrol their staff by June 2018.
Guy Opperman, Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion, said:
With one million employers – from the small sandwich shop owner to the large supermarket chain – now enrolling their staff into a workplace pension, we are creating a nation of responsible employers who are reassuring their workforce that with their support, they will have a secure retirement.
Clearly this would not have been possible without the hard work and continued support of employers across the UK. That is why we are committed to working closely with them to prepare for our recently announced proposals which will ensure even more people, including 18 to 21 year olds, lower earners and multiple job holders, can benefit from a workplace pension in the future.
Since automatic enrolment was launched in 2012, there have been ‘staging dates’ gradually bringing existing employers and their staff into workplace pensions, starting with the UK’s largest employers, and getting down to the smallest ones today.
Research recently published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) highlighted how workplace pensions have become ‘the new normal’, revealing that small and micro employers – which represent 98% of all UK businesses – are finding automatic enrolment ‘necessary’, ‘sensible’ and ‘easier to implement than first expected’. In addition, 4 in 5 of today’s eligible workers (83%) now see saving through a workplace pension as the normal thing to do if you are in paid employment.
Currently, to be automatically enrolled into a workplace pension, you must be aged 22 to State Pension age and earn at least £10,000 per year. In return for employees contributing a minimum of 1% of their pay, employers will at least match it, with most savers also benefiting from tax relief on their contributions.
With contribution rates set to increase to 5% in April 2018 and 8% in April 2019, savers will see every penny going further as, thanks to compound interest, the earlier people save the more they will earn.
In December the government published its review of automatic enrolment, announcing a series of major policy proposals that will set millions of people – including younger people, lower earners and multiple job holders – on the path to a more financially secure retirement. The government will introduce these reforms in the mid-2020s, in partnership with employers, and learning from the contribution increases in April 2018 and April 2019. This will ensure that businesses and individuals have time to plan for the changes, and that we continue to build on the foundation already in place in an effective way.
The news coincides with a national government campaign which is encouraging people to ‘get to know your pension’.
By later this year, it is expected that up to 10 million people will be newly saving or saving more through automatic enrolment, giving them a greater sense of economic security and peace of mind in retirement.
The latest figures show that there are a record 5.5 million private sector businesses across the UK. Additional figures show that workplace pension participation in the public and private sectors has increased from a low of 55% in 2012 to 78% in 2016. The most significant increases have been among the lowest earners, younger people (those aged 20 to 29) and women.
In 2016, the total amount saved annually in workplace pensions by eligible savers was £87.1 billion, a 10 year high (source: Automatic enrolment review 2017: Maintaining the momentum). It is estimated that the introduction of automatic enrolment will have increased pension contributions by around £20 billion a year by 2019/20.
Business owners need to take 3 simple steps to be ready for the workplace pension
Choose a qualifying pension scheme that can be used for automatic enrolment. The Pensions Regulator offers a helpful directory and step by step guide about an employer’s automatic enrolment duties. One option is NEST – the workplace pension scheme set up by the government which can help new business owners fulfil their obligations, without set-up costs.
New business owners should look to get their workforce engaged – the law requires you write to each worker to let them know how automatic enrolment applies; and it’s helpful to point out the positive benefits of pension saving for their future too. Many existing business owners have spoken publically about the motivational benefits of offering a workplace pension to their staff.
Most importantly, no business owner wants to be caught by surprise costs they didn’t plan for. So take ownership of the automatic enrolment process now, which will help to avoid the possibility of costly fines for non-compliance, and put in place arrangements that work for you and your staff.
Follow DWP on: