UK – The UK’s pensions minister, unveiling a pensions information pack for employers and employees, says the workplace is “key” for its pensions strategy.

“The workplace is key to pension strategy,” said Andrew Smith, adding that there have been “too many barriers” to workplace pension provision. The comments came as a survey from Towers Perrin found that 24% of all UK companies are considering, or would consider, introducing a cash option instead of pensions.

The firm said the findings signalled a "final stage" in employers' attitudes to their pension liabilities.

“We really do want to assist employers to help provide workplace pensions,” added Ruth Kelly, chief secretary to the Treasury, speaking at the same briefing.

And he said the government is seeking feedback on the business impact of pensions, especially on small companies.

“All employees should have access to a pension scheme or advice on pensions in the workplace,” the Department of Work and Pensions said. “In the past many employers have been unsure about how far they can go in advising their workers - even where the advice would be to join a
good pension scheme.”

The DWP has produced an information pack which will be distributed to the employees of up to 100 companies in a pilot study designed to find out whether employees make changes to their financial arrangements as a result of
receiving pensions information and advice.

Smith said: "We want to make it easier for employers to support their employees in making retirement choices. Many employers, especially smaller employers, are unsure about what they can and cannot say when giving information on their workplace scheme.”

"Whilst many firms work extremely hard to offer quality pension provision, a very substantial number of employers- still offer nothing in terms of contribution.”

The UK’s Pensions Bill – currently under debate in the House of Lords upper chamber - provides that employers may be required to provide their employees with access to information and advice about pensions and saving for retirement.

"What we need is a partnership between employers, employees and the government, with everyone doing their bit to turn the problem round and make voluntarism work,” said Digby Jones, director general of the employers body the Confederation of British Industry.