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Summary charts

You can choose the summary data you wish to view by selecting an option from the drop down list below.

To view and download all the data files from this year's statistics release go to data tables.

Change the data source from the drop down list below

Executive summary

In this year’s statistics release we've provided a textual description of the collection methods for the data contained in the Microsoft Excel (XLSX) files at the end of the page, together with information on what is covered by each of the different files.

  • Files 1, 2 and 3 are based on schemes with 12 or more members (with the exception of table 1 in file 1, which is based on all schemes with two or more members).
  • File 4 is based on schemes with 2 to 11 members. 
  • File 5 shows relevant effective date information.

You can view and download the files in data tables.

Key findings

  • There are £30 billion in assets in DC trust-based schemes with 12 or more members (excluding hybrid schemes with DC members).
  • DC memberships now account for 30% of workplace pensions memberships (up from 27% last year).
  • 33% of active DC members are in trust-based schemes and 67% of active DC members are in contract-based schemes.
  • The number of trust-based schemes has reduced by 2%.
  • The number of DC trust-based memberships has increased by 15% over the last year.
  • The number of DC master trust schemes with 12 or more members has increased by 11%, and membership of such schemes has increased by 50%.
  • The average size of pension fund transfers from DC trust-based schemes with 12 or more members is £30,000.
  • The average pot size at retirement is £25,000.
  • 40% of DC trust-based schemes with 12 or more members offer a default strategy. This figure is much higher (76%) for schemes with a thousand or more members than for schemes with 12 to 99 members (28%).
  • Where a default strategy is offered 62% of members are only invested in the default strategy.

The landscape

The table below represents the private pension landscape in the UK, showing at a high level the different forms of employer-sponsored provision available within the private sector, and giving an overview of the size of each[1].

This statistics release focuses on the areas marked as DC (trust) and DC memberships of hybrid dual-section schemes.

There are many varieties of hybrid schemes, but they can broadly be classed as either mixed benefit or dual-section.

  • A mixed benefit scheme is one offering one set of benefits which has elements of both defined benefit (DB) and DC schemes, such as a DC scheme with a contracted out underpin on a DB basis.
  • A dual-section scheme has two sections, one offering DC benefits and the other offering DB benefits.
Defined benefit Hybrid: mixed benefit[2] Hybrid: dual-section DC (trust)  DC (workplace contract)[3]
Schemes 5,530 330  1,050 37,690 2,020
Open schemes 880 50  530 28,620 1,800
Total memberships 7,831,000 851,000  5,025,000 1,662,000 Unknown
Total active members 1,382,000 118,000  960,000 846,000 *2,700,000

(Sources: The Pensions Regulator's data based on scheme returns, 31 December 2013, ASHE* 2012. Please note: the annual survey of hours and earnings reports 1.8 million active members of DC trust-based schemes and 350,000 active members in schemes where the type was unknown.)

DC work-based personal pension schemes, also known as contract-based schemes, are excluded from this release. These types of schemes consist of:

  • group personal pensions (GPPs)
  • group self-invested personal pensions (GSIPPs)
  • group stakeholder pensions (GSHPs).

DC contract-based schemes are subject to a different regulatory framework from DC trust-based occupational schemes. We work jointly with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the regulation of contract-based schemes. Individual personal pensions sit outside of our remit. Therefore, all types of DC contract-based provision, both group and individual, are outside of the scope of this statistics release.

Pensioner members are also not included in this data release. This is because our figures for pensioner members do not necessarily represent the number of members who have retired but remained in the scheme. Therefore, we cannot be confident that the number of pensioner members represents the total number of retirees from that scheme, including those who transferred out.

The first three files of this statistics release, file 1: schemes, file 2: memberships, and file 3: financials, refer to occupational DC trust-based schemes with 12 or more memberships (with the exception of table 1 in file 1). These schemes account for 8% of the total universe of DC trust schemes (where the universe includes all DC and hybrid schemes with two or more DC memberships), but more than 96% of the memberships.

File 4: micro schemes is concerned with schemes of 2 to 11 memberships. File 5: effective date information includes information on the effective dates[4] for data submitted on memberships, contributions and assets.

For the most recent year (January 2014), 98% of schemes have an effective date for their membership data after 1 January 2011 and this represents 99.9% of members.

For contribution data, 90% of 12-plus member DC schemes (those which have 12 or more members and are not hybrid) have provided information whose effective date is 1 January 2011 or later, and this covers 99.9% of reported contributions.

For asset data, 90% of relevant schemes (those which have 12 or more members and are not hybrid) have provided information whose effective date is 1 January 2011 or later, and this covers 99.7% of reported assets.

For micro schemes:

  • 90% have an effective date for their membership information of 1 January 2009 or later, and this covers 91% of memberships.
  • 25% of schemes have provided contribution information, and 98% of these provided information with an effective date of 1 January 2009 or later. For assets these figures are 30% and 82%.

Data collection

Pension schemes in the UK with two or more memberships are required to register with The Pensions Regulator. At the point of registration, an occupational scheme provides us with the following information:

  • their scheme name and contact details
  • their scheme status
  • membership information
  • details about the relevant employer(s), trustees and service providers.

In addition to registration, we also operate a scheme return process. This is a statutory requirement, under section 59 of the Pensions Act 2004.

The scheme return is how we collect up-to-date information about occupational pension schemes. DC schemes with 12 or more members complete a scheme return annually and schemes with 2 to 11 members complete once every three years.

Scheme returns are submitted using our online reporting tool, Exchange. This offers several advantages, one of which is that schemes can log in to alter their details at any time using the scheme maintenance process. We send scheme return notices to schemes annually or triennially as a reminder to update their details.

We ask for more information for occupational DC trust-based schemes with 12 or more memberships in the scheme return than for smaller schemes, such as scheme leavers amounts, default strategy and decumulation options.

For more information about the scheme return see our questions and answers below:

  • Information Scheme return

    How to complete and submit a scheme return.

Footnotes for this section

  • [1] The regulator’s remit extends to all private sector pensions where an employer facilitates contribution payments, and therefore our figures exclude personal pensions where an individual has purchased a product directly from a provider and there is no direct payment arrangement.
  • [2] Also known as 'true hybrid'.
  • [3] Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, Office for National Statistics (Revised version released 13 December 2013): rounded estimate of number of jobs where employee has taken up a workplace group personal or group stakeholder pension. This excludes individual personal pensions.
  • [4] The term effective date in this context (and in file 5 generally) refers to the date supplied with the information by respondents. For instance, if a scheme counts its members on 1 April 2013, and then reports this figure to the regulator on 1 May 2013, the effective date will be 1 April 2013.

Changes from last year

This year we've structured the data tables differently to make them easier to read. Last year we made a change to show a different data set for each scheme size band. This year we've returned to our previous presentation method, which shows a different data set for each type of variable.

However, we've retained a separate file for micro schemes as we request different information from these types of schemes. We've also made improvements to this year’s data release by including the results of questions which were added to the most recent scheme return.

Contributions and market value of scheme assets (micro schemes)

We have collected information from schemes with 12 or more members on the value of the assets held by the scheme at a given point in time, and the amount of money contributed to the scheme over a given annual period, for the past five years. This year we've started to collect this information from schemes with 2 to 11 members. Micro schemes complete the scheme return triennially, and as a result we only have asset and contribution information for a sub-set of micro schemes, though this set should increase over time.

Scheme leavers and financial amounts

This year we collected additional information from schemes relating to how many members and how much money has left the scheme within the last 12 months. We requested more detailed information for schemes with 12 or more members.

The questions we asked smaller schemes were:

  1. Have any members left your scheme? If yes:
    1. How many members left because they retired?
    2. How many members left because they transferred to another scheme?
    3. How many members left for another reason? (respondents were not asked to specify what this other reason is, though examples given include death in service and short service refunds).

Schemes with 12 or more members were also asked to provide information on the amount of money leaving the scheme, and this was requested for each reason given above.

For information on the number of people leaving schemes of 12 or more members see file 2: memberships. For information on the amount of money leaving pension schemes with 12 or more members go to file 3: financials. While we have collected data on the number of members leaving micro schemes these figures are below our rounding limits for each category, and as such the results are not shown. We anticipate that following completion of the three-year micro scheme return cycle results will be above the rounding limits and so will be presented here.

Default strategy

We also asked schemes with 12 or more members to provide information on whether their scheme offers a default strategy, and if so what percentage of members invested only in that fund.

For information on whether schemes offer a default strategy see file 1: schemes. And for information on member take up of those default strategies go to file 2: membership.


In most cases the data we show here is a direct summary of the data we hold. However, in some cases we've performed some simple calculations to provide what we consider to be more useful information. In such cases we've also included the direct data from which we made the calculations, in a separate tab in the file labelled 'calculations'.

Total schemes year on year

In order to create the time series of total schemes year on year we start with the total number of relevant schemes on the register as at 31 December 2013. We then use a table showing the total number of registrations each year, and the total number of schemes winding up each year. By removing the schemes established during 2013, and adding the schemes which wound up in that year, we create an estimate for the number of schemes as at 31 December 2012.

We continue this process back to 1997, the year when the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (OPRA), the predecessor of The Pensions Regulator, took responsibility for maintaining the pension schemes register. In the calculations tab the number of wind ups and registrations per year is shown dating back to 1988.

Market value of scheme assets

While the significant majority of relevant schemes have provided us with their market value of scheme assets, it's not completed by every scheme. Within the data files we've shown data for the amount of assets which have been reported to us, as well as the amount of memberships in schemes which have reported an asset figure.

In order to estimate the total amount of assets within these schemes - included in the summary charts - we've calculated average assets per member for each scheme size and status banding (where size is based on the number of members) for those schemes who have supplied the information. We then apply the average to the total number of members in each segment, to extrapolate an estimate for the total amount of assets in DC trust schemes with 12 or more members.

Annual contributions (by employer and employee)

The issue for market value of scheme assets is also present for annual contributions. Within the files we've shown data for reported contributions and active members in schemes which have reported contributions.

We've used the same method to extrapolate an estimate for the total amount of contributions, included in the summary charts, to trust-based DC schemes as for our estimate of assets in such schemes. The difference with respect to contributions is that we calculated the average, and the estimate extrapolated, using active members, rather than all members, as only active members are contributing.

The active membership figure could include members who were only active for part of the year and the figure for employee contributions also includes transfers into schemes as well as contributions made by the employees themselves.

Governance structure

We designed the governance structure theme to show both the number of master trusts, schemes with non-associated employers, a growth area following automatic enrolment, and also to separate out those schemes which have been created by employers (unbundled) from those which have been purchased from a pension provider (bundled), and have a single company providing all services.

The scheme return doesn't have a question which provides this split so we therefore made an estimate by analysing data provided on insurer / administrator. Where the same company is listed as both administrator and insurer we classed this as a bundled scheme, where the companies are different we classed them as unbundled, and if one or other data item is not present we labelled them 'unknown'.

Amounts leaving schemes

As with assets and contributions, the amounts leaving schemes has not been supplied by all schemes. In the data files we show information for the reported amounts leaving schemes, and the number of members in schemes which have reported their leaver amounts.

We extrapolated the amount of money leaving schemes for each reason using the same method as the extrapolation of market value of scheme assets.


Governance structures

Master trust

A master trust is an occupational trust-based pension scheme established by declaration of trust, which is or has been promoted to provide benefits to employers which are not connected, and where each employer group is not included in a separate section with its own trustees. For this purpose, employers are connected if they are part of the same group of companies (including partially owned subsidiaries and joint ventures).

Industry-wide master trust

An industry-wide master trust is a master trust scheme which is only offered to employers within a specific industry.

Bundled scheme

A bundled scheme is one where the majority of services are provided by a single company, and an unbundled scheme is one where services are provided by different companies.

Decumulation options

A scheme offering a lifetime annuity is one where at the point of retirement the scheme purchases an annuity in the name of the trustees, and then facilitates payment of that annuity to the member. A scheme offering self-annuitisation will calculate an annuity payment for the member and make the payment to the member directly from scheme funds.

You can find the results of these two questions in file 1: schemes.

Scheme status

Open Closed to members Closed to contributions Winding up
New memberships are allowed to join the scheme. New memberships are not allowed to join the scheme. New memberships are not allowed to join the scheme. New memberships are not allowed to join the scheme.
Existing memberships are allowed to continue contributing. Existing memberships are allowed to continue contributing. Existing memberships are not allowed to continue contributing. Existing memberships are not allowed to continue contributing.
Funds continue to be invested. Funds continue to be invested. Funds continue to be invested. Funds continue to be invested.
Funds continue to attract charges. Funds continue to attract charges. Funds continue to attract charges. Funds continue to attract charges.

Member status

Active Deferred Pensioner
A scheme member who is currently paying in contributions. A scheme member who has in the past, but is no longer, paying in contributions. A scheme member who has entered the decumulation phase of their pension.
Funds continue to be invested. Funds continue to be invested. An annuity has been purchased on their behalf in the name of the trustees of the scheme (if the annuity is purchased in the name of the member, then the member ceases to be a part of the scheme).
Funds continue to attract charges. Funds continue to attract charges. Some DC schemes offer a drawdown pension. In a hybrid scheme, the income may be provided by the scheme.

The number of memberships does not equate to the number of individuals, as one individual can have multiple memberships.

Data tables

  • File 1: schemes (LSX, 25kb)

    Showing data on:

    1. total schemes year on year
    2. total schemes by size and status
    3. total schemes with members aged 50 to 59 and 60-plus by size and status
    4. schemes using default strategies
    5. self-annuitising and lifetime annuity schemes
    6. schemes by governance structure.
  • File 2: memberships (LSX, 20kb)

    Showing data on:

    1. total, active and deferred memberships by scheme size
    2. total memberships by scheme status
    3. members aged 50 to 59 and 60-plus by scheme size and status
    4. self annuitising and lifetime annuity members
    5. members using default strategies
    6. members leaving schemes
    7. memberships by governance structure.

    Please note: this file was re-issued on 6 March 2014 with the tables showing member use of default strategies restructured.

  • File 3: financials (LSX, 18kb)

    Showing data on:

    1. assets by size and status
    2. contributions by size
    3. leaver amounts by size and status.
  • File 4: micro schemes (LSX, 12kb)

    Showing data on:

    1. schemes by status
    2. memberships by status
    3. assets by status
    4. contributions by status.
  • File 5: effective date information (LSX, 75kb)

    Showing data on

    1. membership effective dates
    2. asset effective dates
    3. contribution effective dates.

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