Caught in a pensions pincer

Oct 21 2005 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Young people in Britain are trapped in a pensions' pincer movement, caught between working for companies that no longer offer a pension and jobs that pay so little they cannot realistically save for retirement, unions have warned.

The report by the TUC said young people in Britain had few options when it came to pensions and retirement.

Unable to save for retirement because of working in places such as shops and hotels that no longer provided workplace pensions, they were earning too little to save enough on their own, it warned.

The only solution had to be for all employers and employees, other than the very low paid, to be made to save a set amount into a pension, the TUC recommended.

"With low pay and no pension on offer where they work, many young people are caught between a rock and a hard place," said TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber.

"Saving for a decent retirement will remain an insurmountable obstacle for young workers unless the government makes all employers pay into decent work pensions, with employees paying in their share too," he added.

Just one in ten hotel and restaurant workers and a third of people working in retail and distribution had a workplace pension, said the report.

Nearly 40 per cent of 16-25 year old workers were employed in these sectors (1.7 million young people), it added.

The sectors where most workers had a work pension employ few young people.

Around 90 per cent of workers in energy and water had workplace pensions but fewer than one per cent were under 25 years old.

The only way to ensure young people were saving enough for their retirement, estimated to be at least 15 per cent of earnings, was to introduce a compulsory pensions system, stressed the TUC.

It has recommended the phasing in of compulsory employer contributions to staff pensions of 10 per cent, with employees paying in five per cent other than those earning less than £6,000.