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A report into small business employers’ readiness for the workplace pension reforms

Publication date:

27 August 2013

Last updated:

22 September 2017


Policy and Public Affairs

The Government's workplace pension reforms represent a significant challenge for small firms, many of whom will have to offer their employees an occupational pension scheme for the first time. This research report identifies how ready small businesses are for the reforms and how financial advice can help.

Purpose of research

  • Automatic enrolment is a potential game changer for UK pension provision - bringing an estimated 10 million people into long-term saving for the first time.
  • Successful implementation depends on the decisions made by 1.1 million micro (1-9 employees) and small (10-49 employees) business employers who are the bread and butter to nearly a third of Britain's private sector workforce. These firms need to make the right calls on what pension scheme they will offer their employees, how they will start-up and administer the scheme, and how they will advise staff members on pension saving.
  • Financial advisers may be able to help in this regard though there has been some debate about whether, and how, firms might seek advice in the run-up to implementation of the reforms.
  • The paper follows up similar research conducted by the CII last summer.
  • One year on, and ten months after the launch of auto-enrolment reforms and the Government's associated television media campaign, this report looks at how these small business employers have responded and whether their attitudes have changed.


  • Small business employers will be crucial to successful implementation: the success of auto-enrolment depends on small and micro firms making the right decisions before and after their staging dates.
  • Awareness: raised awareness is vital to ensuring firms choose the right workplace pension scheme and offer their employees appropriate assistance. Improved communications from government, industry and the regulator will be necessary as staging dates draw nearer.
  • Financial advice is favoured: small business employers are increasingly likely to look to financial advice to help them navigate auto-enrolment as 2015 approaches.
  • Reducing the pensions gap:  advisers and providers may be able to play a crucial role in reducing the nation's pensions gap by providing appropriate assistance to firms in need.

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Related links

A quick guide to selecting a good quality pension scheme for auto-enrolment (The Pensions Regulator, July 2013)

CII's research into small employers' readiness for auto-enrolment (June 2012)

CII research paper - An age-old problem: developing solutions for funding retirement (May 2011)

CII policy briefing: making auto-enrolment work (Oct 2010)

This document is believed to be accurate but is not intended as a basis of knowledge upon which advice can be given. Neither the author (personal or corporate), the CII group, local institute or Society, or any of the officers or employees of those organisations accept any responsibility for any loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the data or opinions included in this material. Opinions expressed are those of the author or authors and not necessarily those of the CII group, local institutes, or Societies.


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