Fewer than half of private sector employers in Britain offer any type of pension to their employees and the proportion has fallen by eight per cent over the past three years, official figures have revealed.
Research by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has found that while 52 per cent of firms offered pensions to their employees in 2003, the figure fell to only 44 per cent last year.
Among small firms with between five and 12 employees, forty-five per cent reported that they do not offer their employees access to any form of pension.
The proportion of employees who currently work for employers that offer any pension provision has also declined from 92 per cent to 84 per cent
At the same time, the proportion of private sector employees who had some sort of pension arrangement fell from almost four out of 10 (38 per cent) in 200 to just a third (34 per cent) in 2005.
Of those employers with 20 or more employees who do not offer employees a pension arrangement, half said they were seriously considering introducing some form of pension provision. The same was true for only 14 per cent of employers with fewer than five employees and no pension provision.
Only six per cent of employers were contributing to Occupational Pension schemes, covering 44 per cent of employees. However, a mere two per cent of employers - covering 23 per cent of employees - had occupational schemes that were still open to new members.
Less than one in three (29 per cent) of employers provided access to Stakeholder Pensions, a decrease from 35 per cent in 2003 - and only seven per cent of employers contributed to a Stakeholder pension, although this was an increase from five per cent in 2003.
The figures also showed that the average (median) employer contribution in the last two years was 10 per cent of employee's salaries for open DB schemes (with 10 or more members), five per cent for open DC schemes (with 10 or more members) and five per cent for Group Personal Pensions.