Minister unveils plans to make jobs pensions automatic enrolment process easier to use - about 4.3m workers will be signed up by next year

The Government has published plans to make the automatic enrolment process more efficient in a consultation announced this week.

Staff in jobs at the UK's biggest companies started to be automatically enrolled in a workplace pension, which both they and their employers will pay into, last October.

Since then, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) says it has listened to responses from employers and pension and payroll providers on how it has worked so far and what parts could operate better.

This feedback has been vital to formulating this new consultation.

Automatic enrolment is designed to supplement the current state pension and to stop the big fall in workers' financial planning for their retirement.

The DWP consultation's key proposals include:

∙ Smoothing the process for assessing who is eligible for automatic enrolment, with the new regulation aiming to allow employers to assess eligibility using information already collected by payroll systems

∙ Asking wider questions about whether the process can be made simpler for some workers, whose approach already meets the aims of automatic enrolment or who offer a defined benefit scheme

∙ Lifting the requirement for people to be automatically enrolled if they have recently been put in their firm pension scheme and have left it

Minister for Pensions Steve Webb said the Government had promised it would listen to businesses which were first to automatically enrol their staff into a workplace pension.

He said these plans are to make sure that chunks of the legislation work better and are more user-friendly. The consultation is also asking for suggestions on how the Government can find out who the best employers are.

Employers and the DWP's partners in the pensions and payroll industry have made a "major contribution" in bringing these landmark changes, Mr Webb said.

He added: "We want to build on this as medium-sized employers prepare to automatically enrol their staff into a workplace pension."

By the end of 2013 around 600,000 more UK people will be saving into a workplace pension. By 2014 about 4.3 million will be signed up.

The DWP will be seeking detailed feedback on its proposals and the consultation will run until May 7.

Copyright Press Association 2013