Region’s workers keen to boost pension pots

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YORKSHIRE workers are keener than most to take advantage of new opportunities to boost their pension pots, according to research.

An in-depth study carried out on behalf of insurance giant Aviva provides a snapshot of Yorkshire workers’ saving habits, and an insight into how much they value their pensions.

Workers in Yorkshire are more likely than the typical UK employee to stay enrolled in a workplace pension scheme, after new pension reforms are introduced in their organisation, according to Aviva’s second Working Lives report.

Up to 10m people will eventually be automatically enrolled into workplace pensions under the Government’s efforts to tackle the pension savings crisis.

Automatic enrolment began last autumn with larger firms.

According to Aviva’s research, employees in Yorkshire are more likely than most to support auto-enrolment, with 68 per cent believing the scheme will encourage people to save for the future.

Across the UK, 65 per cent of respondents believe auto-enrolment will increase saving.

Yorkshire workers are also less likely to opt out once automatic enrolment is introduced than they were at the time of the first Aviva Working Lives report in May 2012.·

In contrast, employers in Yorkshire are less optimistic about their employees’ response to auto-enrolment, with 22 per cent predicting that 25 per cent or more of their staff will opt out following its introduction.

Of those employees who do not have a pension in Yorkshire, 35 per cent said it was because they do not have any spare cash.

However, this is much lower than both the national average (45 per cent) and the proportion of Yorkshire employees who said the same in the second quarter of 2012 (44 per cent).

An annual or performance-based bonus is the most valued benefit in Yorkshire, with 38 per cent of employees citing this as the “perk” they appreciate the most. However, a workplace pension scheme comes a close second at 30 per cent – higher than the UK average of 23 per cent – up from 20 per cent in 2012. It appears more people are coming to appreciate the benefit of workplace saving. However, only 39 per cent of employers in Yorkshire offer an annual bonus, in comparison with an average of 52 per cent in the rest of the country.

While 47 per cent offer a workplace pension, this remains two per cent lower than the national average. Over a third (36 per cent) of Yorkshire employers offer life/death in service insurance, despite the fact that this is valued most by only 13 per cent of employees.

John Lawson, Aviva’s head of policy, Corporate Benefits, said yesterday: “It is encouraging to see that Yorkshire employees are ready to make the most of the advantages auto-enrolment will offer. With fewer feeling held back by a lack of available cash, taking the decision to stay in their workplace scheme means that many will soon see their pension pots boosted by ‘free money’ from their employer.

“There is a really positive shift in people’s attitudes towards pension saving, which is very promising when the wider economy is still in a state of flux.

“As auto-enrolment progresses, we would encourage all employers to consider their communication strategy, so they can inform employees on a personal level about the advantages of saving – as well as receiving valuable feedback on their benefits offer.”

The Aviva Working Lives report was produced by Aviva, and Wriglesworth Research, in association with ICM. Altogether, 4,012 private sector employees and 760 private sector employers were interviewed in two waves. The findings were published in the first report in the second quarter of 2012, and this second report.

Aviva provides insurance, savings and investment products to 43m customers worldwide.