One in six disabled workers ineligible for AE; calls for reform continue

Calls for auto-enrolment reform have continued to grow after research from Now Pensions and the Pensions Policy Institute (PPI) revealed that people with disabilities have a pension wealth of just 36 per cent of the average UK pension.

The research revealed that people with a disability who are approaching retirement age have an average pension wealth of £47,980, compared to the average UK pot size of £130,928, marking an almost £83,000 difference.

In addition to this, it found that around 15 per cent, representing 500,000 disabled people in work, do not qualify for auto-enrolment, clarifying that whilst the government has committed to closing the disabled employment gap, the current automatic enrolment legislation will mean many are still missing out on pension savings.

The role of part-time work was highlighted as a key reason for this, as the research revealed that almost a third (28 per cent) of people with disabilities work part-time, compared to 20 per cent for the non-disabled population.

Now Pensions explained that these savers may potentially be missing out on being auto-enrolled because of the £10,000 earnings threshold, suggesting that removing this could help get an additional 500,000 disabled people saving for retirement.

It also noted that, as the lower limit is set at £6,240, only earnings over that amount are pensionable and even those earning £10,000 are only contributing 3.8 per cent, rather than the total 8 per cent, and are missing out on 'crucial' employer contributions.

Now Pensions also highlighted research from Scope, which revealed that life costs on average £583 more a month if you are disabled, explaining that this can mean even less chance for disabled-people to save.

Yet despite the barriers, the research also revealed that 83 per cent of eligible disabled workers, around 2.9 million people, are enrolled into workplace pensions, compared to 80 per cent of non-disabled eligible employees.

Additionally, people with disabilities are the only group for whom the average income from state pension and benefits tops up private pension savings to a level equal to that of the baseline population.

Commenting on the findings, Now Pensions chair of trustees, Joanne Segars, said: “People with disabilities are one of the under-pensioned groups that we have been campaigning on behalf of for some time.

"We believe it is imperative that we continue to raise awareness of the discrimination that many people go through which has a huge impact on the ability of people to save for their later life.

"We want to make pension saving fairer for everybody in the UK and our policy proposal to remove the £10,000 earnings threshold would help get a further 500,000 disabled people saving for their retirement.”

Disability awareness champion and a financial inclusion commissioner, Johnny Timpson OBE, also commended the provider for the "UK disability and pensions wake-up call", arguing that it is "absolutely essential that companies transparently report on UK disability employment, pay and pension gaps, alongside gender and ethnicity reporting".

“I encourage all employers to embrace board and workplace inclusion plus, and importantly, the social model of disability, and remove the barriers that people with disabilities all too often accessing communications, tools, products, services and careers as in doing so, you remove barriers and improve access for all," he continued.

“Additionally, I urge employers, and particularly financial services firms, to join the Disability Confident Scheme and raise employee awareness of both the Access To Work support plus welfare benefits and grants that may be entitled to.”

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