Pension plans unpopular with low earners

29 May 2009 / by Rachael Stiles
Employees on low incomes are less likely to belong to pension schemes than their higher paid peers, according to new analysis from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The Pension Trends Report for 2008 from the ONS shows that participation in pension schemes amongst employees rises in correlation with their earnings.

For those with earnings of less than £300 a month, 21 per cent of men and 32 per cent of women were members of an employee-sponsored pension scheme.

But amongst those earning £600 a month or more, the figures were significantly changed, with 76 per cent of men and 82 per cent of women belonging to such a pension scheme.

The analysis of pension schemes in the work place is based on data which incorporates occupational pension schemes, group personal pensions, and stakeholder pension schemes.

John Hills, professor of social policy at the London School of Economics, told the Financial Times that the reasons for the disparity in pension scheme participation were obvious, and that the solution is auto-enrolment.

But, he added that he is not sure how the events of the last year or so "will affect behaviour in the coming years."

The recent economic crisis has put additional pressure on worker's incomes, making them less inclined to join a pension scheme, but at the same time it has highlighted the importance of retirement planning.

Interest rates on savings accounts have been hit hard by tumbling interest rates, while turmoil in the markets have left many pensioners with less retirement income from their investments than they expected.

Last year, The Pensions Act 2008 laid out measures which will come into effect in 2012, and that are designed to increase employees' pension participation, particularly among low earners.

Get pension advice and information »

© Fair Investment Company Ltd