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Private sector pension figures down
Just a quarter of private sector staff have joined their employer's pension scheme
Only a quarter of private sector employees are active members of their employer's pension scheme in Britain, compared with a third five years ago, a Government-commissioned report has found.
The research showed the scale of the challenge to tackle the pensions savings crisis, with just over two months to go before larger employers begin automatically enrolling people into workplace pension schemes.
The Employers' Pension Provision Survey 2011 also found that seven in 10 private sector employers do not currently offer any form of pension provision for their employees.
Just 31% of private sector organisations offer any pension provision for their staff, down from 41% in 2007 according to the report, compiled by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) and TNS-BMRB.
Joanne Segars, chief executive of the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF), said: "These figures paint an alarmingly bleak picture and far too few workers in the private sector are saving into a pension. The risk is that they will spend their old age struggling to get by on the state pension alone. The weak economy is putting a lot of pressure on households, and people are prioritising the short-term over the long-term. Sadly many see pensions as a luxury rather than a necessity."
Only one fifth (21%) of private sector employers have an open workplace pension scheme - an occupational, group personal pension or stakeholder scheme that is open for new members to join. Just one in 10 make a contribution to such a scheme on behalf of their employees.
The Government's landmark automatic enrolment scheme will see up to 10 million workers placed into pensions unless they opt out, with employers required to make a minimum contribution into the scheme.
At the time of the survey, which took place in the year before the reforms were due to start to take effect, just over half (53%) of employers were aware that the reforms would require them to automatically enrol eligible employees into a qualifying scheme.
John Forth, one of the report's authors, said: "This report clearly demonstrates the need for the reforms, but it also demonstrates the scale of the challenge ahead. Many of the very largest employers are ready. But there is still a great deal to be done to spread awareness and build understanding of the reforms among smaller employers, most of whom have barely thought about how they will comply."
Some 45% of firms without a current workplace scheme intend to enrol all their employees into Nest, the National Employment Savings Trust. A further 11% say they will set up their own scheme and 5% plan to use a combination of both.
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