According to new figures from the Office for National Statistics, more people than ever before are saving towards their retirement through a workplace pension. The statistics reveal that the total membership of occupational pension schemes in the UK reached 39.2 million people in 2016, a 17% increase from the previous year when membership stood at 33.5 million.
According to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), this shows that more than 8.5 million more people have been saving into a workplace pension scheme thanks to auto enrolment. Via auto enrolment, nearly 80% of eligible people are now saving into a workplace pension scheme.
Minister for pensions and financial inclusion Guy Opperman was upbeat about the figures but recognised that more work needs to be done.
"Saving through your workplace pension is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to put money aside for retirement. It is really encouraging news that this form of saving is now at a record high. Behind each of these figures is a person or a family who can now look forward to a better retirement. But our work here is far from done and we're currently reviewing automatic enrolment so we can continue to build upon its success and encourage as many people as possible to save into a workplace pension."
Sir Steve Webb, the former pensions minister who launched auto enrolment said:
"The good news is that millions of more people are now saving for a pension, mainly because of firms automatically enrolling them into workplace pensions. The bad news is that, at the moment, relatively small amounts of money are going into these pensions. Contribution rates of around 4% of wages are probably less than a third of what is needed for a decent pension. It is vital that we build on the success of automatic enrolment in getting people started on pension saving by 'nudging' them to increase their savings levels to more realistic levels."