Press release

Private pensions enjoy new lease of life

New figures show the private sector industries and occupations which have seen the most significant growth in pension saving since 2012.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


Britain’s salesmen, bar tenders and hotel staff are amongst workers at the forefront of the country’s pensions’ revolution – with rocketing rates of saving amongst their ranks outstripping those of other sectors.

New figures released today (3 November 2014) show the private sector industries and occupations which have seen the most significant growth in pension saving since 2012.

Sales and customer service has seen a leap in participation of 15 percentage points, from 27% to 42%, while those working in distribution, hotels and restaurants have seen a climb from 27% to 36%.

Other parts of the economy seeing a big jump in pension saving include energy and water, where the number of staff participating in a scheme has risen from 64% to 74%.

These workers are spearheading a turnaround in what was a decade-long decline in private pension provision, with the government’s automatic enrolment policy a key factor behind the reversal.

Minister for Pensions Steve Webb said:

Automatic enrolment is transforming the way Britain’s workers see pension saving and, as these industry-by-industry figures show, we’re seeing the change we need across the whole economy.

This is another example of action by this government which is creating a fairer society. We still have some way to go until we’ve completely put right the years of decline in our pension system, but we’re making very strong and steady progress.

Automatic enrolment is being introduced in a phased approach, with every employer in the country due to offer eligible staff a workplace pension by 2018, regardless of how many people they employ.

This means that over the next 4 years, we expect the number of pension savers across all industry sectors to climb further, giving people across society the chance of a more comfortable retirement.

Automatic enrolment is helping to ensure that people will be better off, not only by encouraging and helping them to put money aside for the future, but because employers will also make regular contributions to their employees’ pension pots. The government contributes too in the form of tax relief.

So far about 4.7 million people have been automatically enrolled.

Other key facts include:

  • £39.7 billion worth of pension savings in the private sector in 2013 – £11.3 billion in employee contributions – £24.5 billion in employer contributions, and £3.9 billion in tax relief
  • total annual amount saved in private and public sector pensions stood at £77.6 billion – up from £73.3 billion in 2012
  • there was a 4 percentage point rise for both men and women saving in private sector schemes with 47% of men and 44% of women saving in 2013
  • automatic enrolment started with the biggest employers first – private sector firms with 5,000 or more staff have 64% saving, up from 49% in 2012
  • pension saving in the public sector remained high at 5 million (90%)

Table 1: Private pension participation by occupation

Occupation 2012 2013
Managers and senior officials 51% 53%
Professional 64% 65%
Associate professional and technical 52% 55%
Administrative and secretarial 43% 47%
Skilled trades 33% 35%
Personal service 18% 21%
Sales and customer service 27% 42%
Process, plant and machine operatives 32% 35%
Elementary 20% 26%

Table 2: Private pension participation by industry/sector

Industry/sector 2012 2013
Agriculture and fishing 18% 18%
Energy and water 64% 74%
Manufacturing 52% 53%
Construction 32% 31%
Distribution, hotels and restaurants 27% 36%
Transport and communication 52% 55%
Banking, finance and insurance 44% 46%
Public admin, education and health 48% 50%
Other services 31% 32%

More information

Read the statistics on Workplace pension participation and savings trends: 2003 to 2013.

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Published 3 November 2014