I lead the automatic enrolment team at The Pensions Regulator. Our objective is to maximise employer compliance with automatic enrolment duties.
Helping employers comply with the law and put staff into a pension means millions of people are now saving for their retirement, who weren’t previously.
We have a population where people are living much longer than they ever were – you can expect to live for 20 years in your retirement on average and that figure is increasing. Automatic enrolment (AE) is all about helping people save for their retirement, so that they have a dignified standard of living and that meets their expectations about how they may wish to live for those 20 years.
News that the DWP has revised to up to ten million its estimate of the number of workers who will be saving as a result of AE shows how successful the policy has been to date and that our approach is working.
We know that the vast majority of employers want to do the right thing by their staff and we have been committed to helping them to understand and complete their duties, by providing them with the tools to get on with automatic enrolment.
It’s been a journey that has taken us from working with the country’s largest employers, as they got to grips with implementing the changes amongst complex workforces, to providing simple tools to help someone who employs just one person meet their duties. From detailed lengthy technical guidance to a five minute online Duties Checker, we aim to provide the right information for all types of employer.
Along the way, there have been concerns about adviser capacity crunches and mass non-compliance amongst small employers unable to cope. These fears have proved unfounded.
Around 6.5 million workers have been put into a pension so far, with around a million of those working for a small or micro employer. Over a quarter of a million employers – 80% of them small and micro employers – have now completed the process.
Findings from our research into employers’ attitudes have been consistent, even since before the first worker was automatically enrolled by their boss. It shows that the majority of employers support the principle of this, they do get it and understand the need.
Of course, I understand that some may not embrace their role in this pensions revolution, and we have been trying to simplify things for small employers as much as we possibly can. The reality now is that every week thousands of new employers are complying with the law.
Four years after the first employers meet their duties, the job of ensuring automatic enrolment is successfully rolled out is far from done. Significant challenges lie ahead with huge numbers of small and micro employers still to act. Between now and the end of the year we will be sending out nearly a million letters to employers alerting them to their new duties. These all come from me.
If you are one of the one million or so employers whose duties are still to come, look out for one of my letters and please do take action and prepare early.
Automatic enrolment is not a one-off event, it truly is changing the landscape of saving on a daily basis.
By Charles Counsell
Automatic Enrolment Executive Director