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Eloise Henderson
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New YouGov research for The People’s Pension has revealed strong support for auto-enrolment (AE) amongst SMEs, whether they have already staged or not.

The survey, conducted among senior decision-makers at SMEs that were aware of their business’s staging date, also found that the majority (51%) of SMEs that had already staged supported lower paid workers currently outside auto-enrolment being brought in. The same percentage also supported the self-employed being brought into AE.

The majority of SMEs (60%) thought it was fair that AE applied to all employers, regardless of size, whether they had staged or not. While this view was more commonly held by SMEs that had already staged (66%), those that were still to stage were also relatively positive (49%).

Over two thirds (70%) of SMEs that had already staged thought AE was a good thing for their employees, while half (50%) thought it was a good thing for their business.

There was also reasonable support for compulsion amongst SMEs, with 43% of those that have already staged saying that they thought all eligible employees should be forced to pay into a workplace pension, with no opt outs.

Encouragingly, 37% of SMEs that had staged were already paying more than the 1% minimum contribution to all employees in their workplace pension scheme.

46% of SMEs that had already staged agreed that businesses had a role to play in minimising opt outs amongst their employees.

Commenting on the findings, Darren Philp, Director of Policy and Market Engagement at The People’s Pension, said:

“It’s good to see that the majority of SMEs, whether they’ve staged or not, support auto enrolment being applied to all employers. Those that have already staged are more positive, which might be because having been through the process they know it’s not as hard as they expect – and can see how beneficial it is for their employees.

“SMEs are also supportive of lower earners being brought into auto-enrolment. Their current exclusion affects part-time workers, more likely to be women, and their inclusion could – over time – go some way towards tackling some of the inequalities we have in our pensions system.

“The Government’s 2017 review of auto-enrolment has the potential to build on its success so far. It is an opportunity to widen access to pensions and make sure more people benefit from saving for the long term.”

Commenting further Philp added:

“One of the most surprising things from this survey was that 37% of SMEs that had staged were paying above the auto-enrolment minimum contributions, which is potentially great news for their employees’ future retirement incomes.”


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  The questions were placed on the YouGov SME Omnibus among 898 senior decision makers in SMEs, and subsequently filtered to target those aware of their business’s staging date. Fieldwork was undertaken between 5th – 14th December 2016.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative British business size.