UK workers unaware of auto-enrolment

More than half (52%) of respondents are unaware of the incoming auto-enrolment legislation, according to research by Scottish Widows.

The Scottish Widows Workplace pensions report 2012 found that awareness is particularly poor among employees on an income of under £20,000 per annum, with only a third conscious of the upcoming changes.

Of those who are aware of auto-enrolment, only 16% found out about the changes from their employer. Nearly two-thirds (61%) said they found out through the news and media.

The research also found that, among respondents who are aware of auto-enrolment, only 11% said they plan to opt out. Almost a third (32%) of these said the main reason to opt out is the affordability of the contributions. 

The amount that workers are willing to pay into their workplace pensions has doubled since last year, from £37.50 a month to £76.95. However, based on this increased level of contribution, 33% of respondents said it won’t be enough to provide them with an acceptable standard of living in retirement.

The research also found that 74% of respondents said that the workplace should give them full financial advice and information on retirement planning. More than half (53%) said that their employer’s pension scheme was an incentive to stay with the company.

Lynn Graves, head of business development, corporate pensions at Scottish Widows, said: “With just three weeks to go until auto-enrolment comes into force, it is shocking that there remains such a huge gap in awareness, and that the media has had to step in to play a pivotal role in educating people about these changes.

“Auto-enrolment is designed for people who traditionally don’t have access to a workplace pension scheme, such as smaller employers or those with lower incomes, and it is clear that information is still not reaching the audience it’s intended to target. Educating these employees needs to be a top priority for the industry and the government.”
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