Morten Nilsson, CEO of NOW: Pensions comments on the Work & Pensions report into auto-enrolment

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For immediate release: Monday 16 May 2016

Commenting on the Work & Pensions report into auto-enrolment, Morten Nilsson, CEO of NOW: Pensions, says:

“The Committee is right to support the demand for a Pensions Bill for stronger regulation of master trusts. Having been an early adopter of the master trust assurance framework, NOW: Pensions fully supports this.

“We also agree that there’s a need to communicate more effectively about workplace pensions. First, in terms of smaller employers, of the companies that signed up with us in the first quarter of 2016, over a third (37%) completed their application either very close to their staging date or after the deadline had passed. Of these employers, 16% contacted NOW: Pensions after their staging date had passed – the highest percentage we have recorded. We believe this will only worsen as we reach the time when smaller employers need to enrol.

“Second, we agree that, whilst the Lifetime ISA is going to be tempting for young savers, the Government needs to make it clear that it is not an alternative to a pension. If a saver put £20 a month into a workplace pension versus £20 a month into a Lifetime ISA, by the end of the year they would have around £600** in their pension versus £300 in the Lifetime ISA. Over a lifetime of saving, a workplace pension offers better value largely as a result of the employer contribution.”

“Another topic that needs to be addressed urgently is the level of contributions. Auto enrolment minimum contributions will not be enough for a comfortable retirement and, if auto enrolment is to be a success in the long term, contributions to workplace pensions need to be increased. The removal of ‘qualifying earnings’ from the auto enrolment calculation, so that contributions are based on every pound of salary, would make some difference. Qualifying earnings start at £5,824 per annum which means that if a worker earns £20,000 their qualifying earnings would be only £14,176. The effect is even more disproportionate for people on lower incomes. For someone on £10,000 a year, only £4,176 of their earnings count, meaning that 8% of qualifying earnings is actually just 3.4% of their total salary.”

* Qualifying earnings are the band of earnings on which contributions to auto enrolment are calculated and for this tax year the band is between £5,824 and £43,000 a year. This means the first £5,824 of an employee’s earnings does not count for the purposes of auto enrolment.

** Based on a contribution of £20 per month in the tax year 2017/18:
Workplace Pension – £600 (monthly of £20 employee net + £5 tax relief + £25 employer)
Lifetime ISA – £300 (monthly of £20 + £5 tax bonus)

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For further information:
Amy Mankelow
NOW: Pensions
Tel: 0203 640 9075
amy.mankelow@nowpensions.com

Shirley Collyer
Lansons
Tel: 020 7294 3615
shirleyc@lansons.com

Notes to editors

NOW: Pensions www.nowpensions.com @nowpensions

NOW: Pensions is an independent, multi-employer trust serving thousands of employers and hundreds of thousands of employees from a wide range of sectors.

A subsidiary of one of Europe’s largest pension funds, Danish pension scheme ATP, NOW: Pensions offers a simple and cost effective workplace pension solution direct to employers and via advisers and the payroll sector.

In April 2013, NOW: Pensions became the first master trust to attain the NAPF’s new PQM Ready Standard. The benchmark shows employers that NOW: Pensions is a well governed pension scheme with low charges and good member communications.

In January 2015, NOW: Pensions achieved independent assurance of scheme quality in accordance with the new master trust assurance framework (AAF02/07) introduced by The Pensions Regulator (TPR) in conjunction with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

The NOW: Pension Trustee Directors, whose role is to safeguard the interests of members, comprises well-known industry figures with different areas of expertise:

  • Jocelyn Blackwell, founding partner Dunnett Shaw
  • Christopher Daykin, former Government Actuary
  • John Monks, member of House of Lords and former General Secretary of ETUC and TUC
  • Win Robbins, former Head of European Fixed Income at Barclays Global Investors
  • Nigel Waterson, former Shadow Pensions Minister

Employee charges are just £1.50 per month administration charge (reduced administration charge of £0.30 – £1.00 to be applied during auto enrolment phasing for lower earners) plus a 0.3% annual product investment management charge, with no hidden charges.

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NOW: Pensions has a good technical infrastructure combined with a pension product suitable for our team. We couldn’t be happier with NOW: Pensions.
Martin Woods, SALT.agency