UK public pension numbers up and private down
UK - The number of people in second tier pensions in the UK has risen in almost every year for the past 20 years, according figures from the Department of Work and Pensions. But private pension scheme membership has seen a dramatic fall.

Second tier pensions include the government-backed pension State Earnings-Related Pension Scheme (SERPS) and schemes where members have contracted out from SERPS. Contracting-out was allowed in 1978.

DWP statistics show the number of people with some form of second tier pension rose from 17.5m in 1978 to 23.4m by 2001. The number of people who belong to private sector pension schemes has fallen steadily in this period, dropping by 40% overall. Meanwhile, membership of public sector schemes has increased by 31%.

Membership of SERPS has fluctuated from 8.5m in 1979 down to 6.3m in 1993 and back up to 9.4m in 2000.

More than 3m people took out personal pension schemes when they were introduced in the late 1980s. Since then this number has grown to 5.7m. Two in three members of personal pension schemes are men.

The proportion of men in private pension sector pension schemes has fallen from 85% in 1979 to 65% in 2001. Over the same period, the proportion of women in private sector schemes has almost doubled from 34% in 1979 to 60%.

The number of people terminating their membership of a second tier pension scheme has risen from 1.1m in 1979 to 1.8m in 2000. In any one year, 10% of the membership of public sector schemes will terminate, compared with 15% to 20% of the membership in the private sector. Defined contribution (DC) schemes have the highest rate of termination, and can expect between 25% and 43% of membership to terminate in any one year.