CIPD conference 2010: Preparing employers for changes to the pensions landscape

“Pensions is a supertanker and we all have to start to steer it in the right direction,” said Jane Vass, who leads the private sector team at Age UK, during a session called ‘A new age for retirement and pensions’ at the 2010 CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition.

In the wake of the raised state retirement age, the removal of the default retirement age, auto-enrolment and the national employment savings trust (Nest), all against a backdrop of declining pension provision, Vass warned delegates that employers need to actively educate staff about the developments. She said: “There are big changes on the way for all of us but it will be a win for employers, employees and the state.”

Also on the discussion panel, Steve Delo, chief executive of Pan Governance, challenged the issue of auto-enrolment. He asked: “A large proportion of Britain are deep in personal debt – Is this really the time to be saving?

“I think we will see a lot of problems around auto-enrolment and Nest,” he continued. “It is the administration that is going to be difficult for employers.”

Carmel Bell, head of reward at Ventura, offered an employer perspective to the session. Ventura has a UK-based workforce of 7,500, of which 9% are over 50 and just 1.5% are over 60. Since the firm has a high turnover and recruits new staff each month, the Nest and auto-enrolment developments will be mainly about administrative challenges.

However, as the firm gears up to auto-enrolment, Bell intends to tailor communication around financial education. “The bottom line is people do not understand pensions,” she added. “People are going to have to be more pension savvy.”

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