Commenting on the changes to auto-enrolment announced today by Pensions Minister, Steve Webb MP, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“Pensions auto-enrolment imposes huge costs on business, with the government’s own estimates suggesting it will cost employers over £4.5bn per year. In the current climate, a delay to auto-enrolment for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees is good news.

“However, the changes proposed today will bring new uncertainty to all firms with fewer than 3,000 employees. The vast majority of employers in the UK will be left in a state of confusion. The government must urgently work to deliver certainty to affected companies, and immediately clarify when this latest policy shift will affect them.
“Since smaller businesses will now not be required to auto-enrol their staff in pension schemes until the next Parliament at the earliest, the government has an important window of opportunity to pare back the costs they face when they do join the system.

“In a recent BCC survey, a third of sole traders said than pension requirements were a total or significant barrier to taking on their first staff member. Exempting sole traders from pensions auto-enrolment when they take on their first employees would remove a significant barrier for those business owners looking to expand their business.”


Notes to editors:

The DWP has stated that further details for affected firms will not be provided until January 2012.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is the national voice of local business.

The BCC sits at the heart of a powerful nationwide network of Accredited Chambers of Commerce, serving over 100,000 businesses across the UK, which employ over five million people.

Media contacts:

Liz Larvin
Tel: 020 7654 5813 / 07825746812
Email: l.larvin@britishchambers.org.uk

Lisa Morrison
Tel: 020 7654 5812 / 07717682221
Email: l.morrison@britishchambers.org.uk