Government-backed workplace pension scheme the National Employment Savings Trust (Nest) is processing up to 1,500 new employers a day, as the deadline for the last companies to join auto-enrolment approaches.
Helen Dean, Nest’s chief executive, told FTAdviser that the January staging will be the biggest ever since the new workplace pensions policy has been put into place.
Introduced in 2012, auto-enrolment has now reached nine million people, with opt-out rates of less than 10 per cent.
The staging dates started with the largest firms, moving onto the medium-sized firms and now to the smallest employers, who are getting ready to comply with their 2018 staging date.
Employers paying PAYE income for the first time between July to September 2017 are the last ones to join auto-enrolment, with the duty to enrol their workers in a workplace scheme by 1 February 2018.
In the beginning of 2017, Nest had estimated that around 700,000 small and micro-businesses will stage this year.
In the meantime, the workplace scheme has reached a new milestone, having now 6m members.
This is 1.5m members more than it had at the end of March, according to figures from its annual report.
Nick Sex, Nest chief operating officer, said: “I’m proud that we’re helping millions more people save for their retirement, playing our part in changing the retirement prospects for UK workers.”
The scheme member’s numbers are expected to continue to increase, not only due to the conclusion of the staging phase this year, but also due to the lowering of the age for auto-enrolment of workers from 22 to 18-years-old.
This is one of the measures announced by the government this week in its auto-enrolment review, and it is expected to be introduced by mid-2020, bringing 900,000 more workers into saving.
Nest has currently an opt-out rate of 8 per cent on average, which is lower for younger workers.
It has more than 528,000 employers signed up into the scheme, plus over 4,400 self-employed members.
The scheme has over £2.3 billion of assets under management.