UK schemes in demand
The UK National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) has un-veiled its annual survey of UK pension funds for 1998, revealing a marked increase in the number of people joining occupational pension schemes and levels of member participation in pension fund trustee boards far in excess of government requirements.
The report shows that where membership of pension schemes is automatic for new employees, the take-up rate in final salary schemes rose from 74 to 91%.
For defined contribution (DC) schemes a similar leap was re-corded from 78% membership to 92%, a dramatic fall in employees opting out of occupational pension provision.
And for those schemes where em-ployees had to actively consider joining their occupational plans, take ups rose from 51 to 81% in final salary schemes, 65 to 71% in DC plans and 49 to 69% for hybrid pension funds.
Significantly, the report also showed that 67% of private schemes and 71% of public schemes exceeded the statutory minimum of one-third member-nominated trustees to the fund.
However, the survey also found that as in previous years there is no evidence of a wholesale move to DC provision in the UK. Bill Birmingham, head of research at the NAPF, says: These results are extremely encouraging," adding, "It shows that occupational pension funds are becoming more open, more progressive and more appealing to employees without the need for burdensome government involvement."
Chris Armitage, chairman of the NAPF working group for the survey, adds: "The real message to the UK government here with occupational schemes is 'if it isn't broken don't fix it', because one the one hand they are saying occupational schemes are wonderful and then on the other they are bringing in legislation like the recent green paper which can be over complex and detrimental to the UK pensions industry."
Copies of the Survey are available from the NAPF Tel: + 44 171 730 0585"