Most pension advisers expect more delays for auto-enrolment

Heather Humphreys is Minister for Social Protection. Photo: Damien Storan/PA

Charlie Weston

Most pension advisers expect the Government to miss its target for the roll-out of the auto-enrolment pension scheme.

The plan is being put in place for those who only have the State pension to fund their retirement.

But it has been decades since it was first mooted and its introduction has been subject to repeated delays.

Nine out of 10 pension advisers expect the Government to miss its target of next year for the scheme to become available to the public, according to a survey undertaken by pension trustees Independent Trustee Company (ITC).

More than half of pensions advisers believe it will be at least two years before the scheme gets up and running.

Under auto-enrolment, workers would automatically be enrolled in a pension scheme, with contributions then made into the scheme by employers, the State and the employees themselves. The scheme is aimed at private sector workers aged between 23 and 60 who earn at least €20,000 a year and who are not already part of a work pension scheme.

Only 9pc of pension advisers expect the Government to hit its target of 2024 to get auto-enrolment set up.

More than one in three expect auto-enrolment to be delayed by a year, meaning it would be available to the public in 2025, according to the survey of 100 advisers.

Four in 10 expect auto-enrolment to be delayed by either two or three years, meaning it would be rolled out in 2026 or 2027.

One in seven believe the public will have to wait at least another four years before auto-enrolment is up and running, if it becomes available at all.

However, this is an improvement on December 2021, when almost four in 10 did not expect auto-enrolment to happen at all.

Head of business development with Independent Trustee Company (ITC) Glenn Gaughran, said: “It is encouraging that more advisers believe auto-enrolment will happen, albeit eventually.”

He said that two years ago an ITC survey found almost four in 10 advisers did not expect auto-enrolment to happen.

Today, 15pc of advisers believe the worst-case scenario is at least a four-year delay or for the scheme not to get up and running.

This shows that scepticism around the roll-out of the scheme is falling, he said.

Early last year Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys announced that up to 750,000 people would be automatically signed up to auto-enrolment from January next year.

But in January briefing papers prepared by officials for the incoming Finance Minister Michael McGrath had referred to the target to introduce auto-enrolment next year as “somewhat ambitious”.

Employers’ group Ibec has said that businesses will not be ready.

There are doubts about whether a proposed State-run Central Processing Authority, which is part of the scheme, can be up and running in time.

At a seminar on auto-enrolment this week Department of Social Protection official Tim Duggan, who is leading the project, said his team was looking at ways that employers of women who are on maternity leave can continue making auto-enrolment pension contributions.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​