Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Why you should join your company pension scheme NOW! (it's use it or lose it)

It's a no brainer actually (apologies to Homer Simpson whose scan in on right does show he has a brain although it is very small and rarely used e.g tax payers alliance supporter). There are millions and millions of workers in the UK who have access to a pension provided by their employer but they have not joined the scheme.

Sometimes it is because the scheme is pretty rubbish and that there are no real incentives given by the employer to encourage their staff to join. Yet often this is not the case and workers are losing vast amounts of money each year by not joining.

The 25% apparently eligible to join the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) who haven't are losing at least 14% of their wages each year. They also even pay more income tax and national insurance.

However, the real people at risk from not joining their scheme NOW are in defined contribution (aka Group stakeholder or personal pensions) company schemes whose employers pay reasonable contributions if the members also pay something into it. Many of scheme are pretty good. Not as good as say the LGPS but nothing to turn your nose up upon. Decent employers know that any decent pension will cost a lot of money and they have to play their part in providing funding.

The risk ironically to these "decent" schemes is the introduction of pension autro enrolement next year. Enrolement is a "good" thing and will mean that nearly all workers in the UK for the first time will be automatically put into a pension scheme.  What is worrying some employers is that this may mean that the total bill for pensions will rise. If auto enrolling works (and there is some doubt) then instead of 25% of the workforce being in the company pension scheme this may rise to say 50% or more. Potentially doubling the pension payroll.

What many people fear is that some companies (including ones that use to provide non contributory final salary schemes free to all their employees in a more enlightened age) are planning to either slash and burn existing contribution rates or introduce 2nd tier pensions for employees who have not joined the existing scheme. We need to oppose all attempts to reduce contributions. The more in the scheme the more difficult it will be to cut it.

This is a call to arms to all union reps to "encourage" (we cannot give specific individual financial advice) our members to consider joining their scheme.  If they don't, it may not be around much longer. Use it or lose it.

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