Exodus from workplace shemes fails to materialise

Just 9 per cent of workers automatically signed up for their employer’s pension scheme since last October have exercised their right to opt out.

Millions of people are being enrolled into a pension scheme by their employer as part of radical reforms aimed at boosting the UK’s savings levels and pension provision. More than a million have already been enrolled since the programme began with the biggest employers last year, the Pensions Regulator revealed last month.

Now the Department of Work and Pensions has published figures showing that just 41,400 workers at 50 of the UK’s biggest employers and who are eligible for automatic enrolment had opted out. Another 418,600 have remained in the scheme, confounding fears of widespread rejection of the initiative. Under-30s are the most likely to stay in the scheme they have been shifted into than other age groups.

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The figures paint a more optimistic picture than research published in March suggesting that almost half of employees in Scotland would opt out. Just four in ten Scots pay into a workplace pension, yet 44 per cent of those who don’t told an Aviva survey they would reject the opportunity to join one under automatic enrolment. Almost one in four said they couldn’t afford the contributions.