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Annual ONS Pension Schemes Survey records highest ever membership levels

05 October 2017

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The Office of National Statistics (ONS) 2016 Occupational Pension Schemes Survey (OPSS) recorded total membership of UK schemes as 32.9million, the highest ever number.

It is an increase of 17.1% on the 33.5milllion members recorded by the survey in 2015.

The survey, which looks at data on the membership of schemes and the contributions made, also found that active membership of occupational pension schemes was 13.5 million in 2016, split between the private (7.7million) and public sector (5.7million).

The OPSS covers both private and public sector occupational pension schemes registered in the UK.

It collects information about scheme membership, benefits and contributions from a sample of occupational (trust based) pension schemes consisting of two or more members – including those that are winding up.

The rise in Defined Contribution (DC) membership in recent years is likely to be due to the workplace pension reforms which meant DC arrangements (including group personal pensions), were the most likely route for employers to meet their new obligations under automatic enrolment.

Vince Smith Hughes, retirement expert at Prudential said: "The increase in the number of people joining company pensions schemes shows the success of auto enrolment and how people increasingly recognise the need to provide for their own retirement."

The number of people retiring without a pension has fallen significantly over the last 10 years and people retiring now tell us that they expect to live on about £18,000 a year.

"Our research shows auto enrolment is encouraging people to make better plans for retirement with nearly three out of ten saying they could save an additional £100 a month," added Smith Hughes.

"That's good news because over the past 10 years, responsibility for providing a retirement income has shifted from away from government to individuals and the best approach is to save as much as you can as early as you can."

First published 05.10.2017