Automatic enrolment sees a third more people in workplace pensions | PLSA
Automatic enrolment sees a third more people in workplace pensions

Automatic enrolment sees a third more people in workplace pensions

26 September 2017

As we approach the 5th anniversary of the introduction of automatic enrolment (1st October, 2017), the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association highlights how far we have come:

  • Since 2012, 7.6 million more people have been automatically enrolled into workplace pensions1
  • The proportion of eligible private sector employees who save into a workplace pension increased by more than a third from 42% (2012) to 73% (2016);
  • Almost three-quarters (74%) of all employers support the policy of automatic enrolment with this proportion rising to 92% amongst large employers;
  • More than triple (63% - 2016) the number of people in the private sector who earn between £10,000 and £20,000 are saving into a pension now compared to 2012 (20%);
  • We have also seen a significant uplift (37% in 2012 to 71% in 2016) in the proportion of people on the average UK income (i.e. who earn between £20,000 and £30,000) saving into a pension;
  • More than four out of five (82%) of employees say they have heard of automatic enrolment;
  • Since 2012, £405bn has been saved into workplace pensions - of which, £119bn are employee contributions, £247bn are employer contributions and £39.2bn is tax relief.

Graham Vidler, Director of External Affairs at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association commented:

“Automatic enrolment is a huge success story which has seen the number of people who save into a workplace pension increase significantly. Our members have been at the forefront of the successful delivery of this initiative and we regularly hear how automatic enrolment is transforming people’s retirement aspirations.

“The concept has also entered the national psyche with more than four out of five employees saying they have heard of automatic enrolment and almost three-quarters of employers supportive of this policy. While it has naturally helped people at all salary levels, it is particularly pleasing to see that more than triple the number of private sector employees on average earnings (between £10,000 and £20,000 per year) are now proactively saving for retirement.

“The successful introduction of automatic enrolment has taken a significant amount of hard work from all parties with Government working closely with industry. However, we cannot rest on our laurels and it is now time to consider how we can build on this legacy. From April 2018, we will see contribution rates increase to 5% of qualifying earnings and then in April 2019, rates will increase to 8%. Government and industry must work together to ensure people realise the value of their contributions and do not opt-out.  

“While these increases are a step in the right direction, our retirement income adequacy analysis suggests that minimum contributions need to increase to about 12% during the course of the 2020s. The decision on how and when to increase automatic enrolment contributions should be taken once the initial phase of increasing contributions to 8% has been completed. This will allow Government to see what lessons, if any, can be learnt before raising them further. We look forward to working with our members, the industry and Government to achieve this objective.” 




Lee Blackwell, Head of Media & PR, Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association

T: 020 7601 1726, M: 07713 073 023, E: [email protected]

Kathryn Mortimer, Press Officer, Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association

T: 020 7601 1748, M: 07901 007 713, E: [email protected]

Eleanor Carric, PR Manager, Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association

T: 020 7601 1718, M: 07825 171 446, E: [email protected]


  • 1
  • All statistics from ‘Department for Work and Pensions - Official Statistics on workplace pension participation and saving trends of eligible employees: 2006-2016 – Published in July 2017’ unless highlighted
  • AE employee recognition rates – Office of National Statistics – Early indicator estimates from the Wealth and Assets Survey– June 2017
  • Contribution rates – 5% breaks down as 2% from the employer, 2% from the employee and 1% in tax relief.  8% breaks down as 3% from the employer, 4% from the employee and 1% in tax relief.
  • Employer Research - The PLSA commissioned IFF to undertake a poll of businesses who enrolled their staff into AE schemes; fieldwork was undertaken in June 2017 and just over 200 businesses were interviewed.


We’re the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association; the national association with a ninety year history of helping pension professionals run better pension schemes. Our members include over 1,300 pension schemes with 20 million members and £1 trillion in assets, and over 400 businesses. They make us the voice for pensions and lifetime savings in Westminster, Whitehall and Brussels.

Our purpose is simple: to help everyone to achieve a better income in retirement. We work to get more money into retirement savings, to get more value out of those savings and to build the confidence and understanding of savers.

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