‘Opt-outs should be shown value of lost contributions’

The director of the Strategic Society Centre, co-author of a 65-page report on attitudes to pension saving, said workers who reject company pensions should be sent ‘lost contribution statements’.

These would outline missed contributions from employers and the likely value of the pension pot had workers saved.

His comments underlined the findings of the think tank’s latest study, Who Saves for Retirement?, which found that 35 per cent of people aged 16 to 24 were non-savers before auto-enrolment came into force, compared to 10 per cent of older workers.

The poll of 88,000 people revealed that most non-savers were male, single, on low incomes and living in rented accommodation.

The study by the Strategic Society Centre, the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Prudential also highlighted that many non-savers struggled with money management and viewed pension products unfavourably, particularly when compared to property investment.

Mark Bryan, co-author of the report and senior research fellow of the University of Essex, said: “The results emphasise that pension saving is not just about financial incentives but also about how the benefits of saving are perceived.”

The survey also showed that pension knowledge among employees has been slowly improving in the past eight years.

More than half of male respondents said they knew enough to make decent retirement decisions in the first wave of interviews conducted by SSC from 2006 to 2008.

In the second wave of interviews from 2008 to 2010, the figure rose to 60 per cent.

Women’s ease with making retirement decisions increased from 35 per cent from 2006 to 2008 to 40 per cent from 2008 to 2010.

Adviser view

Rob Simpson, director of West Midlands-Simpson Financial Services, said: “One would imagine that seeing the size of pension pots and the impact of contributions in black and white would encourage members to join. But that would not be the case. When people make the decision to opt out, there is normally a reason behind it. It is usually because they suspect they will change jobs soon or they do not think they can afford it.”