Biography Chronology Home Search Speeches/Statements

1979-1987 : Mr Major’s Written Parliamentary Answer on Occupational Pensions

Below is the text of Mr Major's written Parliamentary Answer on Occupational Pensions on 11th March 1987.


Sir David Price Asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many people at work in 1979 were contributing to an occupational pension, or were covered by a non-contributory occupational pension scheme; how many in 1987; and in both cases what percentage of the working population it represented.

Mr. Major The Government Actuary's surveys of occupational pension schemes indicate that in 1979, 11.6 million employees were covered by an occupational pension scheme, whether contributory or noncontributory, representing some 50 per cent. of employees in employment. In 1983, the latest survey available, 11.1 million employees were covered, representing some 52 per cent. of those in employment. In addition, about 1.8 million people were either in employment without occupational pension scheme coverage, but had preserved rights from earlier employments, or had preserved rights but were not in employment at the time.

Sir David Price Asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many retirement pensioners received an occupational pension in 1979, additional to their basic state retirement pension; how many in 1987; and in both cases what percentage of all retirement pensioners it represented.

Mr. Major The best information available is derived from the "Family Expenditure Survey" and relates to tax units with heads over minimum state pension age. These units may represent single pensioners or married couples. It shows that in 1979, 41 per cent. of pensioner tax units - 2.6 million - received at least one occupational pension, whereas by 1985, the latest figures available, some 51 per cent. (3.4 million) did so. In 1985, some 70 per cent. of recently retired married couples had an occupational pension. The Government Actuary's surveys of occupational pension schemes show that in 1979 there were 3.7 million occupational pensions in payment, and 5 million in 1983. However, these figures include pensions to widows and to persons below state pension age.

It is not possible to say precisely how many pensioners received an occupational pension in addition to their basic state retirement pension. The great majority of pensioners with entitlement to an occupational pension would also have entitlement to a state basic pension where they had reached minimum state pension age and had retired.