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ONS figures show number of savers at record high

More people than ever are now saving for retirement through occupational pension schemes.

The number of savers rose 12 per cent from £13.5 million to £15.1 million in 2016, according to Office for National Statistics data.

Active membership of defined contribution pension schemes increased to 7.7 million from 6.4 million two years ago.

The survey that tracks how much people save shows that while active membership of schemes is getting bigger, the average member contributions to schemes remains low.

Do retirement savers need national targets?

Average contributions to private sector schemes remain low at 3.4 per cent per member, split 1.2 per cent from the member and 2.1 per cent from their employer.

Hargreaves Lansdown senior analyst Nathan Long says: “The growth in pension savers shows auto-enrolment has been spectacular at changing the financial future of the nation. Attention should now shift to helping everyone gain the confidence to take control of their own retirement if they want to.

“The amount people are paying in needs to rise but will automatically go up to 8 per cent of earnings when rules change in April next year.”

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  1. Given that most if not virtually all of this increase in the number of people contributing to pension funds is a direct result of compulsory auto-enrolment and that average savings levels are still far from adequate, particularly amongst the self employed, it’s hard to see this announcement as a great triumph. It’s certainly not indicative of an upsurge in public confidence in tax-assisted retirement saving, not least due to the government’s obdurate refusal to simplify the whole pensions framework and/or scrap the LTA. Your Average Joe (and many others besides) simply don’t trust pensions. The general view is that plans laid this year could be scuppered next year by yet more tinkering and meddling.

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