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Contact our research team

Jude Gardner
Senior Research Executive
01293 586567

Peter Lee
Senior Research Executive
01293 766654

Official statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions show that just under one in ten of those who are eligible have chosen not to take part in their workplace pension, so we were interested to find out about the drivers behind this behaviour and what the final impact of the last increase in contributions in April 2019 will be.

The Research

The People’s Pension and SSGA co-sponsored a qualitative assessment with an independent research agency – Ignition House to understand why a group of individuals who had been offered a workplace pension had chosen not to join, as well as a group of individuals who had joined their workplace pension but had since chosen to stop their contributions.


Ignition House found 30 participants for the study – 22  people aged 22 to 60 who had been offered a workplace pension and had chosen not to join (opt out respondents) and a further 8 people aged 22 to 60 who had joined their workplace pension, but had chosen to stop their contributions (cessation respondents).


Exploratory in-depth discussions were carried out to understand the drivers behind this behaviour and to understand what the likely impact of the increase in contributions in April 2019 will be.

Respondents came from a variety of backgrounds and experiences.  A mix of people by age and gender, along with those working or small and larger employers across a broad mix of sectors were recruited.


The research shows that opting out was merely a timing issue i.e. it hadn’t been the right time to start saving into a workplace pension scheme. 

Other aspects identified included:

  • There was little evidence that employers were seeking to discourage people from joining the scheme
  • Little was done by employers (apart from large employers) to sell the benefits of auto-enrolment savings
  • Some had misconceptions of the rules of auto-enrolment, including the perception that they needed to opt in but reframing and better information led to a “lightbulb moment” for example employer contributions being “free money”
  • There was strong support for re-enrolment, as a “nudge” for them to reconsider
  • The future impact of phasing was not clear cut.

Read the full report from Ignition House