The Labour government has given its strongest hint yet that a system of automatically enrolling workers into occupational pension schemes is likely to play a key part in tackling the UK’s pensions crisis.
Speaking exclusively to Personnel Today, pensions minister Malcolm Wicks said auto-enrolment, where employees are routinely opted into company schemes, was “something the government is going to look at very hard”.
“I think it’s something [people] are going to hear more about. Watch this space,” he said.
Wicks did not rule out altogether some form of compulsory pension saving, saying it was a “vital question” for the Pensions Commission, headed by Adair Turner, to consider.
The commission is due to publish its final report in the autumn, but Wicks said the government would have the final say.
“Whether we need to go down a different path – some would say compulsion – is a vital question for Turner to give advice on,” he said. “He will advise, and government will decide.”
New research this week reveals that most employers believe the introduction of compulsory employer pension contributions in the UK is inevitable.
More than three-quarters (77%) of the respondents to the Employee -Rewards Watch 2005 study, by consultancy Thomsons Online Benefits, felt that it was only a matter of time before company pension contributions were made man-datory for employees.
See next week’s issue for a full interview with Malcolm Wicks