You remember the curious incident of the dog in the night-time? Of course you do. (“But Holmes, the dog did nothing in the night-time!” “That, Watson, was the curious Incident!.”)
Well, we’re now just about three weeks away from the first hike in employers’ and employees’ contributions to auto-enrolled pensions, and the dog is doing nothing in the night-time again. The silence about this imminently-forthcoming event is deafening – and this despite the fact that the increases are far from insignificant (employers’ minimum contributions doubling from 1% to 2%, and employees’ tripling from 1% to 3%).
No media coverage of the story is listed in the first two pages on Google, and indeed the first three listings all come from that legend of search engine optimisation The Pensions Regulator, which seems to be the only dog ready to go in for a bit of light barking.
I’m not big on conspiracy theories, believing that unexpected events (or absences of events) are usually better explained by cock-up than by conspiracy. But I do wonder a little bit if some commentators may have been gently discouraged from commentating, on the grounds that if people don’t notice what’s happening to the pound in their pay-packet they’re less likely to start opting out.
With another round of similar contribution increases due in a year’s time, and with incomes still falling in real terms, I don’t really think this radio silence approach is tenable over the next couple of years. I think we will see steadily-growing levels of opt-outs unless or until we can convince people that contributing really matters, and even in times like these it’s vitally important to take the hit on take-home pay.
And having made that point in favour of contribution increases, I’ll end this blog before I hear those Discouragers knocking on my Camden Town door.