Over three-quarters of UK workers in workplace schemes – ONS

Over three-quarters (76 per cent) of workers in the UK were enrolled in occupational pensions schemes in 2018, research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed.

This represents a 3 percentage point increase from 2017, when 73 per cent of employees were in workplace schemes.

Since the introduction on auto-enrolment in 2012, there has been a 29 percentage point rise in workers with pension plans.

Commenting on the findings, Equiniti propositions and solutions director, Chris Connelly, said: “More than three in four people are now members of a workplace pension scheme and this rate continues to rise at a steady pace, increasing by at least three percentage points every year since the introduction of the revolutionary auto-enrolment regime.

“Perhaps the most transformational element of the reforms are that people are now being funnelled into pension saving at a far younger age.

“Once again it was the youngest who saw the biggest rise in participation with a six percentage point increase in scheme membership for 22-29 year-olds – in total, 79 per cent now have a workplace pension.”

The number of employees with DC workplace pensions increased in 2018, almost equalling the number of workers in DB schemes. ONS found that 34 per cent of UK workers were in a DC scheme compared to 36 per cent that were in DB schemes.

In 2018, only 35 per cent of employees aged outside auto-enrolment age eligibility, under 22 years-old or over state pension age, had workplace pension schemes, whereas approximately 80 per cent of employees within the age boundary criteria had occupational pensions.

ONS also revealed that 84 per cent of females and 73 per cent of males working in the public sector had workplace schemes, while, in the private sector, 47 per cent of women and 39 per cent of men were enrolled in a scheme.

Despite the improvements, Royal London director of policy, Steve Webb, stated that “there remains a pension gulf between men and women” and pension equality “could still be decades away”.

He added: “Being a member of a pension is a great start, but the size of your pension will depend on how much you earn and how much you and your employer contribute.

“On both of these fronts, inequalities in the jobs market mean that women are still lagging far behind men when it comes to building up decent pensions.”

Centre for Ageing Better senior evidence manager, Emily Andrews, concluded: “It’s great that pension saving is increasing, mainly because of the increase in auto-enrolment minimum contributions.

“But more needs to be done. People will need to save even more in private or workplace pensions, and not rely on the state pension alone.”

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