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Savers let down by auto-enrolment

10 March 2017

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Millions of workers who are contributing to a workplace pension are being let down by the system, according to Aviva.

The pensions and insurance company says contribution levels for automatic enrolment are too low, and will lead to disappointment for millions of savers when they retire.

It is calling for minimum contribution levels to be increased to 12.5% and it wants the government to consider an increase when it reviews auto-enrolment later this year.

Minimum levels of savings are scheduled to rise from 2% today to 8% in 2019.

Alistair McQueen, head of savings and retirement at Aviva, said people in the UK have understood that they need to start saving for retirement and have started doing it through workplace pensions.

"Workers are doing their bit by saying yes to workplace pensions, but by being automatically enrolled at minimum levels of pension contributions, new savers are on track for disappointment in retirement," he said.

McQueen's comments come in response to latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) that show a record proportion of workers are now participating in workplace pensions.

The ONS figures show that the number of people now participating in workplace pensions hit a new high of 68% in 2016, up from 64% in 2015 and up from its low of 47% in 2012.

Young people are the biggest growth area, with the number of people aged between 22 and 29 participating in a workplace pension scheme more than doubling from 31% in 2012, to 66% today.

Aviva says the rise has largely been driven by auto-enrolment, but says it is the same system that will let young savers down.

McQueen said: "The underlying data suggests that millions of new savers are being enrolled into pensions at minimum levels of contributions – currently standing at 1% of their salary from the employee and 1% of their salary from the employer.

"The levels of contribution need honest and urgent review because workers are playing their part and the rule-makers should respond by building a system that is fit for purpose."

First published 10.03.2017

Lindsay.sharman@wilmingtonplc.com