By Marcus Leach

Unison is today (Monday) calling on the government to give its backing to all workers — in both the private and public sectors — to have access to a decent pension scheme.

A new report today revealed that almost three quarters of private sector staff will not be able to ‘adequately exist’ when they retire, as they have not saved enough money. And the government’s plans to auto-enrole workers into the NEST scheme could still see up to 9 million ‘fall through the cracks’.

Only last week, Unison warned that a shocking two-thirds of private sector employees — 15 million workers - are not in a workplace pension to which their employer contributes. This could mean they are forced to rely on benefit top ups paid for by the taxpayer when they retire.

“Every person who is shut out of saving for their retirement, or who does not save adequately, could cost the taxpayer £15,000 in benefits top ups. This will be a huge drain on public finances, running into hundreds of billions of pounds," Dave Prentis, Unison General Secretary, said.

“There is also a danger that the government’s plans for public sector pensions will price the low paid out of saving for their retirement. This would make matters worse for the taxpayer later on down the line — who will be forced to pick up an even larger means tested benefits bill.

“The government must give its backing to every worker — in the public and private sector — to have access to a decent pension. All too often, bosses of private firms secure themselves generous pensions, with low retirement ages, but lock their staff out of schemes.

“It is the lack of decent private sector pensions that is the real pension timebomb in this country — not the cost of public sector schemes. Pension schemes across the public sector were overhauled only a few years ago, to ensure they are affordable and sustainable for the long term.”

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