Just over a year since its roll-out in October 2012, the government’s flagship pension auto-enrolment scheme has proved a resounding success. New figures from The Pensions Regulator reveal that over two million workers in more than 3,500 companies have been brought on board and are now regularly saving into a workplace pension scheme.
There is a ‘but’: under the scheme the UK’s largest employers were required to implement auto-enrolment first, partly on the basis that they would have greater resources to seek professional advice and guidance to select the optimal scheme for their workforces. As Joanne Segars, the chief executive of the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) puts it, the “real test” is yet to come, as tens of thousands of small- and medium-sized enterprises, amongst them numerous Umbrella Companies, face their staging dates in 2014.
Needless to say, SMEs have considerably fewer financial resources at their disposal than their larger counterparts in the UK economy, which is likely to make the task of obtaining the right professional input to implement auto-enrolment effectively more arduous.
Ms Segars said: “We are pleased that auto-enrolment has got off to such a great start and that there is strong support for saving through workplace pensions. However, the real test will come when small- and medium-sized employers, who have fewer resources and less pensions know-how, start enrolling staff next year. The challenge now is for the government and The Pensions Regulator to make sure these employers understand what they have to do to comply.”