The case for extending automatic pension enrolment to young workers

In this briefing, Gareth Davies MP makes the case for young workers to be automatically enroled into a workplace pension scheme. He argues that, instead of waiting until the age of 22, extending automatic enrolment 18-21-year-olds will better equip them meet the challenges of their generation.


  • Automatic enrolment is a remarkable and underappreciated success story. Since 2012, it has increased pension participation 88%, boosting the savings of 10 million by a combined £17bn.
  • However, in stark contrast to the high rate of enrolment among those over 22 years old, only 18% of eligible 18–21-year-olds are enrolled in a workplace pension.
  • Extending automatic enrolment to those aged 18-21 would result in 910,000 young workers newly participating in a workplace pension, with approximately £800 million more savings every year.
  • For young workers today, there are several problems for which early saving offers a solution: demographic pressures are set to stretch pension incomes, mental health challenges are proven to inhibit pension participation, projects to tackle climate change require support from pension funds, and financial disengagement is likely to exacerbate pension under-saving.
  • Time is literally of the essence. As such, this paper recommends that the extension of automatic enrolment to young workers be prioritised.


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