Automatic enrolment reaches eight million employees

Hannah Godfrey writes

New figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show eight million people are now saving into a workplace pension through automatic enrolment (AE).

The new figures mean almost 1,000,000 individuals have been auto-enrolled since December 2016.

Royal London director of policy and former pensions minister Steve Webb (pictured), who oversaw the implementation of automatic enrolment during his time in government, said: “The pace of automatic enrolment is now breathtaking.

“In the last 12 months, the number of workers auto-enrolled has risen by more than one and a half million, which is a huge achievement in such a short space of time.”

He added: “Many sceptics doubted whether the industry could cope and for years we have been warned of an imminent ‘capacity crunch’. But the industry has risen to the challenge and the big growth in membership is a huge achievement.”

A study published by the Department for Work and Pensions in December 2016 estimated there will be an extra £17bn of workplace pension savings per year in the UK as a result of automatic enrolment by 2019/20.

However, according to The Pensions Regulator (TPR), about 800,000 to 900,000 UK employers still have AE duties to meet.

Earlier this month TPR carried out spot checks in Greater Manchester to ensure employers are complying with their AE duties.

The checks were part of a nationwide enforcement campaign that began in London in February and will be rolled out to major cities across the country in a bid to ensure employers are meeting their AE duties.

Webb said: “Whilst the latest milestone should be a cause for celebration, we cannot afford to be complacent; the new government needs to accelerate the review of automatic enrolment and put in place plans to build on this excellent foundation.”