Auto-enrolment for pensions wins backing of public

 Auto-enrolment into pension schemes and compulsory employer contributions have won widespread backing from the public, according to research.

The survey of almost 800 employees, carried out by pollsters TNS for employee benefits firm B&CE Benefit Schemes, says 62% of the public are in favour of automatic enrolment in employer pension schemes, with only 15% against.

Almost the same amount (61%) are in favour of paying a contribution of 4% of income to a scheme such as the National Pensions Savings Scheme (NPSS) proposed in the Pensions Commission report published in November. The report, also recommended that individuals have the right to opt out.

Under the proposals individuals would contribute 4% of their post-tax earnings, their company would contribute an additional 3% and the government 1%.

However, the commission’s recommendation that the retirement age should rise to 68 proved less popular, with only 21% supporting working longer and 56% against.

John Jory, deputy chief executive of B&CE, said auto-enrolment would bypass the paperwork that often prevents staff from signing up.

“Hopefully, inertia will mean a large percentage will stay in the schemes because it’s much easier to do nothing than to opt-out,” he said.

New regulations published last week mean employers will not be able to make major changes to their pension without first consulting scheme members.

The regulations, introduced under the Pensions Act 2004, require employers to consult with current and prospective members, or their representatives, on significant changes to their occupational or personal pension scheme for a period of at least 60 days before the changes can be introduced.

The regulations will affect employers with more than 150 employees from 6 April 2006, those with 100-150 employees from 6 April 2007 and employers with 50-100 staff from 6 April 2008.

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