Doubts over after-effects of auto-enrolment – Hargeaves Lansdown

The UK’s total private pension wealth was £6.1trn between April 2016 and March 2018, 42% of total wealth, new figures published by the ONS revealed.

This was up from the £3.6trn and 34% of total wealth recorded between July 2006 and June 2008, after being adjusting for inflation.

Furthermore, between April 2016 and March 2018, 48% of all private pension wealth was held in pensions in payment, 37% in active pensions and 15% in preserved pensions – proportions which the ONS indicated have been stable over time.

The data also revealed that for all individuals with an active occupational defined contribution scheme, the median wealth held in these pensions has decreased in each of the last three survey periods – from £11,600 between July 2010 and June 2012, to £3,300 between April 2016 and March 2018.

The ONS suggested this was likely a consequence of automatic enrolment bringing in new members who have not yet accrued high levels of private pension wealth.

Commenting on the latest ONS data, Hargeaves Lansdown senior analyst, Nathan Long, said: “The number of people saving for their life after work continues to grow, but the nagging doubts remain about the after-effects of auto-enrolment.

“The average amount of money in pensions being built up is falling as more people are saving for the first time, but more worryingly there is evidence of a littering of discarded pension plans, as people are moved from pension to pension each time they change employer.”

The latest figures also found the percentage of adults below the State Pension age actively contributing to a private pension has increased – from 43% between July 2010 and June 2012, to 53% between April 2016 and March 2018.

The ONS indicated this rise could reflect increased participation in defined contribution schemes, likely to be a result of the introduction of automatic enrolment between 2012 and 2018.

Long continued: “A new Government should look to grant people the right to have their employer pay into their choice of pension so people can take control of their own retirement, after all you wouldn’t expect to switch your bank account every time you change jobs.

“The gulf between men and women’s pensions shows an interesting nuance with values being far closer between those building up their pension than those who are receiving their pension.

“This perhaps shows why Labour have included a policy of hefty compensation for women who have had their State Pension pushed back in their manifesto.”

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