Pension scheme membership lowest among 16 to 21 year olds

Employee membership of a workplace pension is at its lowest at the beginning of an employees’ working life, according to research by the Office for National Statistics.

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Its Pension scheme membership report found that among employees aged 16 to 21, around 10% of both men and women belonged to their employer’s pension scheme.

Membership, however, is at its highest in the 50 to 54 age group with 63% of male and 62% female employees in a pension scheme.

The research also found that in 2013, the percentage of people paying in to a workplace pension in the private sector increased for the first time since 2006.

Also in the private sector, male employee membership increased from 36% in 2012 to 40% in 2013, while among female employees, membership increased from 26% in 2012 to 31% in 2013.

In 2013, pension scheme membership reached its highest level since 1953, reversing an almost continuous decline between 1967 and 2012.

According to the report membership of occupational pension schemes rose to 8.3 million after a decline between 1967 and 2012 to 7.8 million.

Those working in public administration, defence and social security were most likely (90% for both male and female employees) to be members of a workplace pension.

Employees in the accommodation and food services industry were least likely to be members of a workplace pension scheme with 15% of male employees and 14% of female staff likely to be so.

Tom McPhail, head of pensions research at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Millions of workers are still missing out on benefits of building a private pension nest egg to provide them with an income in retirement.

Auto-enrolment is starting to reverse the downward trend of recent decades but there is still much more to be done. The gap between public and private sector pensions provision is still huge and millions of self-employed are missing out on pension tax breaks.

”With the exciting new freedoms being introduced in such a hurry next year, we would like to see the next government stop and take stock in 2015 and to bring forward the scheduled review of auto-enrolment to 2015. We need to think in terms of auto-enrolment 2.0.”

Malcolm McLean, senior consultant at Barnett Waddingham, added: “It is also interesting, though not surprising, to note the employee membership of a workplace pension is lowest at the beginning of working life and that certain public sector jobs were most likely to attract membership of workplace pension schemes while the reverse was true in other probably low paid jobs in the accommodation and food industries, where both men (16%) and women (14%) were least likely to be members.”