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Auto-enrolment gets thumbs up, but millions unaware of where pension is being invested

It is three years since the launch of auto-enrolment, with millions now enjoying future income security.
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However, despite auto-enrolment for workplace pensions now that established, millions of workers are still missing out on securing vital later life finances.

October 1 marks the third anniversary of auto-enrolment – which mandates employers to provide a workplace pension for eligible workers.

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Automatic enrolment began with the largest employers, those with over 250 members, in 2012. All companies should have enrolled eligible workers into a qualifying workplace pension scheme by 2018.

Investment firm Hargreaves Lansdown surveyed 658 workplace pension members to explore how their attitudes to pensions have changed over the past three years.

When asked whether it was a good idea for the government to introduce auto-enrolment, more than nine out of ten employees said yes.

The study also revealed that there has been a demonstrable improvement in understanding of pensions, with 70 per cent saying their understanding is better now. Nearly 84 per cent indicated they know how much they are contributing towards their retirement income every month.

Around 72.5 per cent of employees reported that they now discuss pensions with friends, family or colleagues either occasionally, 65.84 per cent, or often, 6.65 per cent.

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However over half of members said they still don’t know where their pension is invested and three in five revealed they did not yet feel confident they are saving enough for a comfortable retirement. A similar proportion said they don’t yet know what options are available to them at retirement.

Tom McPhail, head of pensions research, at Hargreaves said: “Auto-enrolment has been a great success so far; it has certainly improved the retirement prospects of millions of employees, however they is still a lot of work to be done. 

“There is still a disconnect between auto-enrolment at the front end and the pension freedoms at the other end. The critical imperative is to keep working on employee engagement and to look for ways to make it as easy as possible for employees to deal with the challenges of saving for retirement. ”

According to the Pension Regulator, as of August 2015, 57,907 employers had confirmed compliance with enrolment duties. Some 20.5m employees are covered by these employers, and 5.4m employees have been newly enrolled.

However, a further 5.2 were ineligible for enrolment and are still not saving into a workplace pension, McPhail added: “For all its success, auto-enrolment is leaving millions behind. If we include the self-employed, there are around ten million workers who are still not saving into a workplace pension; more work needs to be done to make sure they don’t miss out.”

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