HC Deb 07 January 2003 vol 397 c171W
Mr. Love

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the change in the number of occupational pension schemes since the abolition of the right for employers to make membership a condition of employment; and if he will make a statement. [89396]

Mr. McCartney

Provision of an occupational pension scheme is a voluntary act by the employer and changes in the numbers of occupational pensions schemes since the abolition of the right to make membership compulsory in 1988 are unlikely to be related to whether membership of any particular scheme is compulsory.

A significant number of employees are not taking advantage of the occupational pension provision of their employers. The General Household Survey (2001) indicates that less than 70 per cent of employees whose employer provides a pension scheme actually participate in their employer's scheme. As a result, the Pensions Green Paper 'Simplicity, security and choice: working and saving for retirement' Cm 5677, suggests options for employers to be able to make membership of their occupational pension schemes a condition of employment for new employees. This could be one way of increasing the numbers of employees who are members of, and contributing to, their occupational pension scheme and may have benefits for employers in terms of recruitment and retention of staff.