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Monday, 8 October, 2001, 09:42 GMT 10:42 UK
New pensions shunned by workers
Prudential's head office, Euston, London
The government's flagship stakeholder pension is failing to attract the workers it is supposed to be targeting, according to a study by the Prudential.

The survey also said that many workers had not been told about plans for a stakeholder scheme at work.

Yet Monday is the deadline for most companies which do not already operate a pension scheme to offer their workers access to a stakeholder plan.

Companies which have not set up a scheme, or a recognised alternative, face fines of up to 50,000.

Stakeholder pensions were launched in April as a low cost way for those earning modest incomes to save for retirement, and ease the burden on state coffers.

Deadline day

Under stakeholder legislation, all companies employing at least five staff must offer workers the chance to join a stakeholder plan, unless an alternative is available.

Latest figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) shows that the rate of take-up has declined, with only 25,000 employers "designating" a stakeholder scheme in August, compared to 35,000 in July.

The government believes that as many as 400,000 employers could be obliged to set up a scheme.

But, according to the latest ABI data, since stakeholder pensions went on sale in April, only 146,950 employers had set up a scheme.

Although September figures are not yet available, experts believe that as many as 200,000 companies could now be facing fines.

Poor take-up

Even if further firms have now signed up, many workers remain unaware of the schemes, the Prudential said.

Its survey found 40% of workers said they have not been told about plans for stakeholder pensions.

The Prudential found that 35% of all working people still do not belong to a pension scheme.

Of these nearly half said they were not planning to join a stakeholder.

And only 28% of employees of small firms said they planned to pay into a stakeholder scheme.

Andy Briggs, director of pensions at Prudential, urged workers who have not yet made provision for old age to start saving.

"Far too many people retire on far too little money, and it is really important that people do make proper plans," Mr Briggs said.

"We have to get the message through to them but we have not got the message through yet."

See also:

08 Oct 01 | Business
Why key pension scheme is ignored
23 Nov 00 | Business
What is Serps?
09 Sep 01 | Business
Firms face fines over stakeholder
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