Ethnic minority workers failing to take up workplace pensions

Just 25% of workers from ethnic minorities have a workplace pension, well below the national rate of 38%.

Research from the Social Market Foundation (SMF) think tank found ethnic minority workers were much more likely than white Britons to put themselves at risk of financial hardship in later life by not saving into a pension.

Ethnic minorities were both more likely to think a state pension was enough to provide a decent retirement and more sceptical about the value of private pension savings.

Pension parity

Women won't reach pension parity until 2028

Cost of living leads workers to opt out of pensions

How HR can support staff with pensions worries

Just under two thirds of ethnic minorities (63%) describe themselves as being confident of having enough money to live on in retirement, compared with 56% of the white population.

Niamh O Regan, researcher at SMF, said: “Longer lives and rising costs mean that building a solid private pension is a necessity for just about anyone who wants a comfortable retirement.

“Too many people from ethnic minorities are at risk of hardship in later life because they’re not saving into a pension and putting too much faith in the state pension.”

SMF recommended an overhaul of pension auto-enrolment rules to bring more people into the workplace pension system, including the government’s promise of expanding eligibility for auto-enrolled pensions by including workers from the age of 18, rather than 22. 

Automatic enrolment is triggered when an individual is earning over £10,000 a year.

The SMF said that baseline should be reviewed and lowered, or removed altogether. 

It argued that because ethnic minority workers were more likely to be on low wages, they were often left out of workplace pensions.

Ethnic minorities in the UK also have higher levels of self-employment than others, putting them outside the range of current auto-enrolled pension saving. 

SMF/Opinium surveyed 1,000 people plus a booster sample of 500 respondents of ethnic minority background in July 2022.