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Quarter of employees unaware they may be saving more for their retirement

Close up image of a man sitting next to a laptop and mobile phone.
  • Minimum contributions to workplace pensions are rising to 8% of earnings.
  • Saving less than £1 a day extra will cover the increase for an average earner.
  • Fewer than one in ten people say they will opt out.
  • More than a quarter of people say they don’t know about the increase.

There is a big change happening this spring which will affect millions of people’s pay packets. However, new research from Aviva1 has found more than a quarter (27%) of employees aged 22+ in the UK still don’t know about it.

From 6 April, the minimum contribution for anyone auto-enrolled into their workplace pension is going up from 5% to 8% of their pensionable salary.

But employees won’t have to pay all of that. Typically, they will put in 4%, with 3% coming from their employer and 1% from the government in tax relief.

Even though the changes come into effect from their April pay day, Aviva’s research has found it could come as a surprise to millions of employees.

10,000,000

the number of workers
auto-enrolled since 2012

£10,000

the earnings threshold for
auto-enrolment

The recent survey of workers aged 22+ found more than a quarter (27%) didn’t know about the increase.  A similar proportion (29%) said they’d heard something about it but didn’t know the details. Less than half (44%) said they were aware.

Aviva’s research also found that fewer than one in ten people (9%) said they would opt out of their workplace pension scheme when contributions increase.

Alistair McQueen, Head of Savings and Retirement at Aviva, said:

“So far, employers and employees have taken auto-enrolment in their stride, but contributions have to rise to give more savers a chance of a decent retirement.

“Contributions started at 2% of earnings which was a good way of easing people into the idea of retirement saving, but that was never going to be enough to provide most people with a comfortable retirement.

Auto-enrolment was first introduced by the government in 2012. Now all businesses with at least one employee must offer a workplace pension scheme. Anyone aged over 22 who earns more than £10,000 a year must be auto-enrolled, although workers can opt-out.

Since 2012, more than 10 million people have been auto-enrolled and opt-out rates have remained low.

The increase to 8% is another step in the right direction. And it’s a smart time to introduce the rise as it will coincide with increases in minimum wage, bigger income tax allowances and a common time for pay rises.

For an eligible employee earning the average salary of £27,500, the increase will be less than £1 a day but they’ll see an extra £50 go into their pension pot each month as their employer and the government will also be paying in more.

The fact that our survey shows only a small proportion of people say they will definitely opt out is great news. It’s a testament to the efforts everyone has made over the past six years that saving in a workplace pension has become the norm.

The aim of auto-enrolment is to encourage people to save into a pension to help give themselves a better standard of living when they retire.  But to make this a reality, Aviva is calling for minimum contributions to be gradually increased to 12.5% by 2028. 

Aviva also wants to see self-employed people included in some form of auto-enrolment to support those working in the gig economy. 

-ENDS-

1 1,212 employed people aged 22+ were surveyed by Censuswide on behalf of Aviva in March 2019

Media enquiries

Ben Moss

Corporate and Workplace


Notes to editors:

  • Aviva is a leading international savings, retirement and insurance business. 
  • Our aim is to earn our customers’ trust as the best place to save for the future, navigate retirement and insure what matters most to them. Last year, we paid c.£33 billion in claims and benefits on behalf of our 33 million customers.
  • We operate through five business divisions: Investments, Savings & Retirement; UK Life; General Insurance; Europe Life; and Asia Life; and focus on three strategic priorities: deliver great customer outcomes, excel at the fundamentals and invest in sustainable growth.
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