New research reveals that students are supportive of government proposals to make automatic enrolment start at age 18  

  • Over 1,000 young adults (aged 11-27 years) were surveyed with an overwhelming 86% of them supporting the government’s proposal to reduce the age of automatic enrolment from 22 to 18
  • 89% of students think pensions should be made a bigger part of the national curriculum

Ahead of My Money Week (12-16th June) a new survey reveals that 89% of young adults want pensions to be made a bigger part of the national curriculum, and the vast majority support reducing the age of automatic enrolment to 18, (currently it is 22). The research conducted by NOW: Pensions, in partnership with charity, Debate Mate, surveyed more than 1,000 young adults aged 11-27 years.

The young adults have also been keen to explore AE from age 16 – echoing recent parliamentary debates – with two-thirds (66%) of young adults supporting this.

This research supports NOW: Pensions position that AE should apply from age 18. 

NOW: Pensions Underpensioned* research with the PPI, shows implementing the age change and removal of lower earnings level would increase pension wealth for some underpensioned groups by as much as 52%. 

My Money Week

My Money Week, is a national activity week for primary and secondary schools that aims to get young adults excited about money and help them to gain the skills, knowledge and confidence in all money matters. First launched in 2009, the theme for #MyMoneyWeek this year is Mind Over Money.

As part of its partnership with Debate Mate, the mentoring organisation which runs after-school debate programmes across the UK, NOW: Pensions, conducted a survey of young adults (11-27) to gain an insight into the younger generations’ understanding of pensions and their thoughts on personal finance more broadly. 

The workplace pension provider for more than two million members, has worked closely with the charity Debate Mate since 2020, and so far, mentored 3,500 students from inner-city schools about money, savings and pensions through their mentorship programme including inter-school debate competitions.

The results of the poll follow the most recent pensions savings data released by the Department for Work and Pensions which indicated that even at the age of 16-24, there is a gender pension gap of 50%, showing just how early on the gender pension gap begins to take hold and risks leaving women behind**.

Support for the AE Expansion Bill

NOW: Pensions welcome Government support for the private members bill that will enable these measures.  But we would like to see additional Government commitment on delivery of these measures – including a roadmap for implementation, and an update to Parliament within 12 months of Royal Assent. This will ensure savers will benefit in the foreseeable future, and enable savers, employers, schemes, and the industry to plan and work with Government on implementation.

In addition, we suggest this Bill also offers an opportunity for Government to commit to other key matters for the future of AE pension saving and pension saver outcomes – including a formal review of AE to establish consensus about strategic direction on matters such as scope and contribution levels – to ensure it evolves beyond its initial implementation stages and remains relevant and fit for purpose. 

Patrick Luthi, CEO, NOW: Pensions:

We are one of the very few UK workplace pension providers who accept all employers and their employees into the scheme. We have long taken an interest in how to improve pension savings for our members and have worked with the Pensions Policy Institute (PPI) for several years to look at the scale of the pension savings gap, and how best to address the issues of chronic under saving for retirement. Government’s backing of this bill was a watershed moment for the pensions industry, one that we have long called for. While it is a moment for celebration, we’re not at the finish line yet and we will continue championed these proposals for the benefits of savers, working with government and industry stakeholders until these reforms are fully delivered.

Samantha Gould, Financial Adviser and Head of PR and Campaigns, NOW: Pensions:

By partnering with Debate Mate, our aim is to help create a healthy relationship with money, savings and budgeting which should create advantages to these students in their adult lives. It is positive to hear that many of these students are engaged and want to understand more about savings and pensions as part of their schooling. A lot of people have financial regrets, quite often later in life, so if we can start to create an understanding about crucial financial topics that will stay with them into adult life, we can help them to shape their retirement journey.


1.Do you support the government’s proposal to reduce the age from 22 to 18 to be automatically enrolled into a workplace pension?

YES – 85.5%

NO – 14.5%

2.There are some calls for this to be reduced to age 16. Do you think pension saving in the workplace should be an option at age 16?

YES – 66%

NO – 34%

3. Do you think pensions should be made a bigger part of the national curriculum?

    YES – 89%

    NO – 11%


    Notes to Editors

    **DWP – The Gender Pensions Gap in Private Pensions, 5th June 2023

    *Underpensioned Index 2022 Report

    About NOW: Pensions

    NOW: Pensions is leading UK workplace pension provider. We look after the pension savings on behalf of millions of members from a wide range of industry sectors.

    We have a clear mission – to help everyone save for a more financially secure future. This means achieving the best financial outcomes for our own members, while fighting for a fair pension system to enable all pension savers to enjoy the retirement they deserve. We do this by highlighting pension inequalities and campaigning for change.