Is auto-enrolment working? – November Play Pen lunch

On the day that Steve Webb declared victory (tentatively) for auto-enrolment, the Play Pen sat down for a pint and a pie in the Counting House and after a long and rigorous debate concluded that he might be right. The vote among the 13 gathered was 4 agreeing and 9 tentatively agreeing that auto-enrolment had been a success (so far).

That Steve Webb chose yesterday to declare victory shows just how on-line this Government is to the Pension Play Pen agenda and while we would not claim to be the only barometer of public opinion, we are the one that matters.

Present at the lunch were

Simon Lawrence

Simon Kew

Simon Redfern

Peter Weiner

Henry Tapper

Robert O’Donovan

Clive Worlock

Tony Bucknall

Mike Phillips

George Emsden

Carolyn Baird

Pippa Gilchrist

Martin Freeman

The debate kicked off with an econium to auto-enrolment by Simon Lawrence who praised the response of all stakeholders to its introduction and suffused the room with triangulated positivity.

The up-beat mood was sustained by the normally lugubrious Martin Freeman who demonstrated an optimisim for what had come tempered by realism about the hump of work building towards the end of 2013.

Not all in the room agreed, Peter Weiner clearly had reservations as had Simon Redfern, principally regarding the capacity of the pensions industry to continue to deliver the level of bespoke resource accorded the early stagers.

More worrying still, Pippa and Carolyn representing youth and beauty were far from convinced that Generation X and Y had bought into the saving message. Pippa claimed to have been ridiculed in her local boozer for suggesting that pensions savings might be a decent option and Carolyn was equally sceptical that the hearts and minds of the nations yout had been conquered (nb Mr Webb).

There were some excellent contributions from numerous sources including the newcomers to the Group- Mike Phillips and Tony Bucknall (ex-man from the Pru).

We look forward to hearing how discussions fared from our sister group in Scotland who were dining simultaneously (and hopefully discussing much the same issues). Will auto-enrolment catch on north of the border as it appears to be doing down sarf?

This report ends with the trenchant journalism of our very own Will Robbins, who’s ripping article in CityWire is well worth a view – if only to demonstrate just how on message Steve Webb has become.

With auto-enrolment just a month old, pensions minister Steve Webb (pictured)is tentatively declaring victory.

His grounds are that there have not been mass opt-outs by those who work for the UK’s biggest firms. However, with six years’ worth of smaller companies to come, and small pot consolidation still to resolve, Webb is hoping that Nest’s low charges will help things stay that way. Speaking about the National Employment Savings Trust (Nest) this week, Webb dubbed opt-outs the ‘dog that didn’t bark’.

‘I have essentially taken money from employees’ pay packets without permission,’ he says. ‘Thousands of people have now had money from their pay taken and put in a pension. It’s the dog that didn’t bark. Where is the indignation?’

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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