The latest statistics from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has revealed that 84% of workers who were eligible for a workplace pension actively took part last year. This is an increase of 7% on 2016 when 77% saved into an occupational pension.
It compares particularly well to between 2007 and 2012 which saw a general downward trend in the participation in workplace pensions, from 60% to a low of 55%. However, thanks to the introduction of auto enrolment in 2012, participation has been on the rise ever since. To date, more than 9 million workers have been automatically enrolled, with some 1.2 million employers fulfilling their duties.
Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey said: "By the introduction of automatic enrolment we have started a savings revolution, allowing more people to plan for retirement."
Former pensions minister Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London said: " The first phase of automatic enrolment has been a stunning success. Nearly 10 million more people are saving in a workplace pension compared with 2012, and the growth has been particularly marked among younger workers, women and those in smaller firms – all groups who have traditionally had low levels of pensions."
However, he warned that complacency shouldn't set in:
"But we need to beware complacency. This is a vital first step, but it is a very long journey. We now need to nudge people to save more, for example when they get a pay rise, so that more people have the financial future that they want and expect."
Employers paid more than £53 billion into workplace pension in 2017 while employees contributed £27.5 billion. Tax relief contributes another £9 billion. Participation in auto enrolment was highest in the energy and water sectors (91%) and lowest in the agriculture and fishing industries (69%).