Four million enrol in work pensions
Four million people have now been placed into a workplace pension as the Government's retirement savings revolution rolls out, figures from the Pensions Regulator reveal.
Around 10 million workers will eventually be put into retirement schemes as a result of automatic enrolment, leading to an estimated eight to nine million people newly saving for their old age or saving more.
Pensions Minister Steve Webb hailed the scheme as a "tremendous success", adding that enough people to fill 10,000 jumbo jets have now been automatically enrolled.
Hairdressers, colleges and scrapyards are among the latest wave of employers to have been brought into to the scheme, according to the Pensions Regulator, which oversees work-based pension schemes in the UK.
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Newcastle-based Metnor Group, which operates in various sectors including construction and property, was one of the employers which pushed auto enrolment to the four million landmark, as was Berkshire-based country hotel Donnington Valley.
Adam Langman, finance director at Metnor, which employs around 150 people, said: "We already offered access to pension schemes to our workforce with a take up of only 40%.
"Another 50% began saving as a result of being automatically enrolled and to date our opt out rate has been low."
To date, 21,000 employers have completed a "declaration of compliance", which shows the regulator that they have met their auto enrolment duties.
Higher rate than expected
Employers have to automatically enrol workers who are not already in a qualifying workplace pension scheme, are at least 22-years-old and below state pension age, earn more than £10,000 a year and ordinarily work in the UK.
So far, a much higher than expected rate of around nine in 10 people are staying in their pension scheme rather than opting out after they have been automatically enrolled.
But the employers taking part so far have been large and medium-sized companies, which tend to have more experience of pensions.
Thousands of small employers with fewer than 50 workers will see their automatic enrolment duties come into effect from June next year, eventually affecting everyone from corner shops to farms, builders and pubs.
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Employers must prepare
The Pensions Regulator has started writing to smaller employees about what they will need to do to get set up for auto enrolment.
It is urging employers to find out when they need to be ready to meet their staging date, which is the date when their duties under auto enrolment go live. Employers can find out their staging date by going onto the regulator's website - www.tpr.gov.uk.
The Pensions Regulator recommends employers start planning for automatic enrolment 12 months ahead of their staging date.
The regulator's executive director of automatic enrolment, Charles Counsell said: "A seaside hotel, a scrapyard, high-tech factories, colleges, care providers, hairdressers and a designer all featured amongst the wide range of employers completing their duties this month.
"It is a mix which illustrates just how automatic enrolment is gradually becoming part of the fabric of running every type of workplace.
"This summer, we have begun the process of writing to hundreds of thousands of small employers informing them when they need to be ready to meet their new workplace pension duties. This letter is a call to action for employers. It directs them to the information they need to prepare for automatic enrolment."
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Many not saving
Analysis released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) last week found that around 11.9 million people in the UK are not saving enough for a comfortable retirement.
Common reasons behind the shortfalls were someone not having a full work history, not contributing to a workplace pension or not contributing enough to generate a large enough retirement income.
Mr Webb has suggested that workers should consider putting any pay rises they get into their pension.
The Pensions Minister said today: "Automatic enrolment is a tremendous success with four million people now automatically enrolled into workplace pensions - enough to fill 10,000 jumbo jets.
"This policy is helping build a fairer society as millions of workers who didn't have the chance to save in a workplace pension before are now on track for a more comfortable retirement.
"And while people have the choice to opt out of workplace pension saving the overwhelming majority are staying in, ensuring a better future for themselves and helping reverse the savings slump in Britain."
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