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A 2012 Overview of Workplace Pensions

Released: 22 February 2013 Download PDF

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Figure 1: Percentage of employees with workplace pensions, 1997, 2011 and 2012, UK

Bar chart showing proportion of employees with workplace pensions
Source: Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) - Office for National Statistics

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In 2012, the proportion of employees who belonged to a workplace pension scheme was 46%, the lowest since 1997 when the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) started to collect the information (Figure 1). In 1997 membership was 55%. At 48%, membership was higher in 2011 than in 2012.

Although  membership was 46% overall in 2012, there was a significant difference between the public and private sectors: 

  • 83% of public sector employees were members of a workplace pension scheme;

  • 32% of private sector employees were members of a workplace pension scheme.

The fall in the percentage of employees with a workplace pension between 1997 and 2012 has been driven mainly by the fall in membership of defined benefit occupational schemes from 46% to 28% (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Percentage of employees with workplace pensions: by type of pension, 1997 and 2012, UK

Bar chart showing proportions of employees in each type of pension
Source: Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) - Office for National Statistics

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Membership of defined contribution occupational  pension schemes also fell slightly, from 9% in 1997 to 7% in 2012. However, membership of group personal and stakeholder pensions increased substantially over the same period, from 1% in 1997, before stakeholder pensions were introduced, to 10% in 2012.

Although membership of defined benefit occupational pensions has declined, in 2012 it was still the largest category accounting for 60% of employees with a workplace pension.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Further information

2012 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings: Summary of Pension Results - This bulletin contains statistics on pensions from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) 2012.


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