UK- The UK government is coming under pressure from the Trades Union Congress, the body representing seven million UK workers, to force employers to make compulsory payments to pensions after research suggested that around half the UK workforce is without access to an occupational pension scheme.

Its report, Uncovered: workers without pensions, shows that more than 12 million workers in the UK are still without a company pension scheme while a further five million rely solely on the state pension to fund their retirement.

TUC deputy general secretary Brendan Barber said: “we want to see compulsory employer contributions and action to stem the tide of final salary scheme closures. Compulsory employer contributions would also make stakeholder schemes much more attractive to the kind of people who are most likely to be without cover.”

Occupational pensions coverage varies dramatically according to geography and industry according to the report. Wales and the north east of England, among other places, suffer the lowest occupational coverage compared with London and the south east of the country where workers are more likely to be part of a company scheme.

Professional men are twice as likely as unskilled men to be members of occupational schemes while the divide is even greater for women. Public administration and former publicly-owned energy and transport companies tend to provide occupational schemes while part time, temporary or seasonal staff located in small firms based in manufacturing, distribution and construction are the least likely to be covered.

“With the continually declining value of the basic state pension and the retreat of many employers from providing decent occupational pensions, a huge transfer of responsibility for pension provision to the individual is already occurring. The inequalities in provision mean in effect those in need of a decent pension in retirement are least likely to have access to one,” says the report.

Following the pensions simplification report by EFRP chairman Alan Pickering in July, work and pensions minister Andrew Smith announced the government would be producing a green paper to look at occupational and private pensions policy in the autumn.