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Over two-fifths UK workers not 'adequately' saving

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UK - Just over 40% of the total workforce in the UK is failing to make "adequate" provision for retirement, yet almost a fifth claim nothing could persuade them to either start or increase their pension saving, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has warned.

Figures from its Savings and Protection Survey for the first quarter of 2009 showed that while 54% of working people are "adequate savers", 13% - considered to be the equivalent of 3.7 million people - are "under saving" - contributing to a pension at rates "unlikely to provide an adequate retirement income" - while the equivalent 8.3 million people, or 29%, are not saving into a pension at all.

The report revealed of the 15.6 million 'adequate' savers 76% are members of a defined benefit (DB) scheme - and 51% of these are in a public sector DB scheme - while 15% of these savers are in an employer-sponsored defined contribution (DC) scheme and 8% are in a personal pension.

Findings from the survey of 3,000 adults questioned also showed while 32% would be more likely to either start or increase their pension saving if the government replaced tax relief with a contribution of 50p (€0.56) for every £1 saved, 17% claimed "nothing would persuade them to start saving (or to save more) in a pension".

In addition, the idea of guaranteed returns on pension investments would only act as an incentive to 18% of respondents, while the possibility of 'early access' to pension saving - proposed by some as a way to address the issue of inflexibility - would only encourage 26% to improve their pension saving habits.

In contrast, 50% said early access would make no difference to their pension saving intentions, and 4% suggested increased accessibility would actually make them less likely to save in a pension.

Of the possible options for gaining early access to pension saving, the most popular - with 19% each - were being able to access the 25% tax-free lump sum before retiring and having a pension scheme split so that some of it acts like a savings account and some is locked away. Only 4% supported the idea of a loan from their pension and 30% found none of the options appealing.

Despite the financial crisis and the impact of falling equity prices and bond yields, figures indicated almost 80% of pension members questioned believe the current economic climate "would make no difference" to the amount they contribute towards their pension, although 44% of those without a pension admitted it would make them less likely to start saving in one.

Dr Rebecca Driver, director of research and chief economist at the ABI, claimed the government needs to encourage households to make a conscious decision to increase long-term savings and suggested "the forthcoming Budget is one opportunity to do so".

She said: "That is why the ABI is calling for an increase in the equity ISA limit to £10,800, and allowing employers to automatically enrol employees into workplace pensions before 2012. Over the next few months the ABI will be unveiling further proposals to boost the popularity of saving."

If you have any comments you would like to add to this or any other story, contact Nyree Stewart on + 44 (0)20 7261 4618 or email nyree.stewart@ipe.com

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