Hats off to Aviva for this move, which will make a huge difference to many employees retirement prospects in the long term. In general, private sector pensions lag way behind generous public sector pension schemes, so this social justice uplift is long overdue;
The Living Wage Foundation (LWF) has launched the Living Pension and Aviva is delighted to be one of the first UK employers to be awarded the Living Pension accreditation. The Living Pension has been developed as a voluntary pension savings target for Living Wage employers and has been independently calculated to provide enough income to meet every day needs in retirement. It will be open to all accredited Living Wage employers from March 2023.
Auto-enrolment minimum pension contributions are currently set by the government at 8%, which includes a minimum 3% contribution from employers. To become a Living Pension Employer, organisations must provide a Living Pension savings level which equates to 12% of a full-time real Living Wage salary, of which at least 7% must come from the employer.
Aviva has been working closely with the LWF from the outset to develop this accreditation and test the proposals through its own employee pension schemes. As a result, Aviva has opted to increase its default pension contribution rates. This means that from July 2023, Aviva will automatically enrol new starters on a pension contribution of 14%, of which 10% is contributed by Aviva and 4% by the employee.
Danny Harmer, Chief People Officer, Aviva, said:
“By adopting the Living Pension and paying the real Living Wage, organisations can help their people balance saving for tomorrow with living for today. Aviva is proud to be amongst the first companies to offer the “Living Pension” to our own employees and, as one of the UK’s leading pension providers, we are raising awareness with our clients too, so that more people have a decent standard of living when they retire.”
Aviva is also one of the UK’s largest workplace provider and has been at the forefront of campaigning to drive proposals to abolish auto-enrolment contribution thresholds to enable more people to save into a pension for their retirement. The government recently announced (06 Mar 2023) its support for these changes, which include abolishing the lower earnings limit for contributions and reducing the age for being auto-enrolled to 18-years-old. Aviva believes that the minimum auto-enrolment contribution should be increased from 8% to at least 12% of earnings over time.
Doug Brown, CEO UK & Ireland Life, Aviva, said:
“The Living Pension accreditation, combined with the incoming changes to auto-enrolment, could make a real difference in levelling up pensions for younger workers, part-time workers – who are often women – and those with multiple lower-paid or part-time jobs.
“This is a voluntary savings target, recognising that not all employers will be able to make these changes right now, especially when faced with current economic challenges. It is an important step forward in helping employers provide a living income for their people during their working lives and beyond.”
The Living Pension sets out the minimum annual contribution required through an average working life to reach this savings level and employers commit to making sure all workers can access this.
In 2021, the Resolution Foundation published a feasibility study that concluded it could be possible to set a savings target that would help most individuals meet the cost of living in retirement. Further research completed by the Resolution Foundation in 2022 showed that four in five workers, and 95% of low-paid workers, are not saving at the level needed to reach a Living Pension in retirement.
Katherine Chapman, Director of the Living Wage Foundation, said:
“We are delighted that Aviva have signed up as one of the first Living Pension employers, providing stability and security for their workers now and in the future. Over the last ten years the Living Wage campaign has grown in strength and numbers. Now paid by over 12,000 employers, it delivers essential pay rises to over 450,000 workers every year. The Living Pension builds on this by encouraging employers to do more to help their workers build a pension pot that meets basic everyday needs in retirement.”
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