‘Stoical’ British get serious on pensions

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The tough economy has triggered a new mood of financial “stoicism” among Britons and raised the chances of people joining the Government’s landmark scheme to place millions of people into workplace pensions.

A fundamental shift in the way consumers handle their finances has taken place, which has helped to make workers much more receptive to reforms which will automatically place them into pension schemes over the next five years, according to pension provider Nest and researchers the Futures Company.

The report was published as the first anniversary of auto-enrolment approaches. Over 1.6 million people have been placed in workplace pensions since the roll out of the scheme started.

Three-fifths (61 per cent) of people surveyed for the report who are yet to be placed in a workplace pension plan to stay in it, showing a sharp increase from less than half (47 per cent), when similar research was carried out in 2011. Just under one fifth (18 per cent) of consumers disagree with the idea of auto-enrolment, marking a downward shift from 27 per cent in 2011.

So far, the rate of people staying in schemes once they have been opted in has been higher than many pundits had expected, with around nine in 10 people who are being auto-enrolled remaining in their pensions.

In trying to explain the “surprisingly low” opt-out rates, the report pointed to “growing evidence that the recession has changed consumer attitudes towards money”.

It said: “A more stoic mindset appears to have taken root.”

More than half (57 per cent) of people questioned said they will never spend money as freely as they did before the financial crisis, marking an increase from 48 per cent a year ago and 43 per cent in 2010.

Despite some more optimistic news about the economy in recent months, the report found that people are still keeping a tight control on their purse strings, with just 29 per cent of people saying they do not pay off their credit card balance each month, down from 52 per cent in 2011.