If you’re anything like me (and I know you are), this year you will have got married, bought your first house, and been counting down to the introduction of Automatic Enrolment on October 1st.
Be in no doubt – today is a momentous day.
For the first time in history, YOU – the country’s workers – have been automatically enrolled into contributing some of your salary into a pension, supplemented by a contribution from your employer and the government.
Or at least, you have if you work at one of just 5 large employers starting auto-enrolment today. The rest of you will be automatically enrolled at some point over the coming 5 years or so.
But TODAY is the big day that will determine the future success of the reforms.
Why? Because it’s the day the press are talking about it.
Make no mistake, this is one of the most heavily researched and carefully planned policy changes in recent times. A glance at DWP’s published research page reveals a myriad of research studies (many of them ours of course), which have led to and refined the current policy of “you’re in unless you opt out”.
Ministers have been briefed and re-briefed about all the possible issues the research has raised.
But as one provider we interviewed put it, “You can get the product perfect, but if the Daily Mail front page says the reforms are bad idea on the day it launches, it’ll flop.”
So the big question is… what have the press said? Any more killer zombie pensions from hell?
Well, no. At the time of writing, the mainstream press is awash with balanced, informative, largely benign headlines, often explaining what auto-enrolment means for YOU, and usually featuring some spin on the DWP’s Dragon’s Den adverts.
And the Mail? Among other headlines, “Are you ready for the Great Pension Revolution?” and “Pension auto-enrolment offers hope for a generation”. What has the world come to when we have such level-headed analysis coming from the Daily Mail?
In fact auto-enrolment was even the most read story on the BBC for a while today, until a man in Aberdeen got his head stuck in a bin.
Boring headlines might not be too bad in this case – with luck, it should give the policy a chance to get a head of steam, iron out any teething troubles, and then maybe we’ll eventually become a nation of savers.
Nobody is saying that auto-enrolment is the sole solution to the pensions crisis, but it’s in all of our interests for it to succeed.
Whether this positive sentiment will survive the next stock market crash or a similar crisis remains to be seen, but for now we seem to be on the right track.