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18 December, 2017   |   By Fiona Tait   |   Blog

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So here it is... @Pensionsgirlieblog 18 December 17

I have spent quite a lot of my professional career travelling around the UK, so a trip down to London with the promise of dinner in the House of Lords at the end of it, should not have presented any problems, even if it was followed the next day by the office Christmas party and the day after by the annual ladies’ seasonal prosecco fest. I can still do 3 days on the bounce if I am forced to.

What I hadn’t reckoned on was the fatality on the line at Leighton Buzzard which meant that instead of quaffing in Westminster I spent 4 hours on a train getting as far as Nuneaton, 2 hours waiting for it to move, and 4 hours coming back again without any dinner at all. I am sure there is a worthwhile existential concept about having gone all that way while sitting in the same seat and ending up exactly where I started, but frankly I am still too mentally bruised to think of it. I am however indebted to the twitter-mate who helpfully pointed out the irony of having nothing to eat while we waited. 1812171.png

I’ll bet Alannis Morrisette will be gutted she didn’t think of that one.

The office party was fortunately much more productive. Productive, that is, of an ouch-y head and throbbing feet. 1812172.jpgI did however enjoy celebrating with my fabulous colleagues, some of whom I don’t see much of in the working day. Having a great team means bringing together lots of different strengths and personalities and it’s wonderful to have the chance to appreciate them all individually. By appreciate I naturally mean sharing lots more prosecco and dancing until 2am but it all counts. In fact the ladies I shared lunch with the next day are a biological extension of the girls I worked with over 20 years ago and who are still partying together after all these years. Some people never grow up.

You will appreciate that following all this I am a bit broken this Monday morning and the blog will therefore have a bit less pension stuff than normal. I know that will upset people so here are some nice statistics to keep you going:

  • Over 9m people have automatically enrolled up to November 2017
  • In 2016 78% of workers met the age and earnings criteria of an eligible worker
  • The average opt-out rate remained at 9%, the same as in 2015
  • The average cessation rate was 16%, of which 67% were the result of leaving service
  • Median employee contribution rate 2.4%, down from 4.5% in 2012
  • Median employer contribution rate 4%, down from 10%

These figures were released – on a Sunday! – ahead of the DWP’s report on automatic enrolment (AE) which is due out today. It has already been confirmed that the report recommends widening the scope of AE to include younger workers between 18 and 22, and the removal of the Lower Contribution Limit. Good stuff so far as it goes, but it seems that there will be no immediate recommendations with regard to the self-employed. This appears to be on the basis that most of them have been employed at some point and will benefit from AE for some of the time anyway and not at all because it is too difficult to implement. No doubt we will learn more today.

It was also confirmed this week that many workers auto-enrolled in Scotland will be paying different rates of income tax from those in England, but with no - I was going to say detail but actually I mean no anything – on how it will interact with pensions tax relief. Happy Monday. 

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