Press release

Private sector pension saving on the rise with young people

New DWP figures show that automatic enrolment is continuing to play a major role in reversing the decade-long decline in private sector pension saving.

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


The statistics show that there were 6.7 million eligible workers in the private sector saving in a pension in 2013 (46%) – up from 5.9 million (42%) in 2012.

Young people working in the private sector showed the largest increase in the proportion saving into a pension, growing more than any other age group – 30% of those aged 22 to 29 saved in 2013 compared with 24% in 2012.

But growth in the number of pension savers was seen across all age groups, including those aged 50 to State Pension age.

The increase in the number of people saving is largely due to the government’s policy of automatic enrolment into workplace pensions which is currently being rolled out and has already affected over 4.7 million workers.

Pensions Minister Steve Webb said:

Automatic enrolment is getting Britain saving and helping build a fairer society.

Almost 7 million people in the private sector are now saving, including many from low to middle income occupations who have never had their own workplace pension before.

And, surprisingly it is young people who are the age group leading the way with almost 1 in 3 of those in their 20s putting something by for their retirement.

I hear too often that people wish they had started saving for their pension early, so I am delighted to find out that more young people are saving.

The first figures on pension saving by region show increases across Scotland, Wales and all the English regions since 2012.

Scotland and the south-east of England have the highest percentage of people saving in the private sector – both 49%. The area with the biggest rise – a 6 percentage point increase – is the south-west of England.

Other findings include:

  • £39.7 billion worth of pension saving 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
  • sectors with the highest private sector pension participation in 2013 were energy and water (74% – up from 64% in 2012), transport and communication (55%), and manufacturing (53%)
  • private sector pension saving rose across all occupations – the biggest increases were in sales and customer service occupations from 27% to 42% (a 15 percentage point rise) and a 6 percentage point rise for elementary occupations from 20 to 26%
  • 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 and 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 5.0 million (90%)

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

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Published 15 October 2014