A new character hits TV screens as a bold new multi-million pound campaign aimed at smaller employers and their employees is launched.

A new character is introduced to Britain’s television screens this evening (Wednesday 21 October) with the launch of a campaign which aims to change the country’s perception of pensions in the workplace.

Tonight will be viewers’ first introduction, as he makes an appearance between Emmerdale and Coronation Street at 7.25pm.

The humorous ads come with a serious message. While automatic enrolment into workplace pensions has been rolling out across the UK since 2012, it is only now that 1.8 million small and micro employers are being required to take action to help their staff to save for later life.

In a phased process over the next 3 years, every employer will have to enrol their eligible staff into a pension scheme by law.

The new campaign – which comes with the hashtag #DontIgnoreIt – was launched today by Pensions Minister Baroness Altmann. The minister, who was personally involved in designing Workie, unveiled him on the digital billboard at London’s Piccadilly Circus.

Pensions Minister, Baroness Altmann, said:

We have made great strides forward by automatically enrolling more than 5 million people into a workplace pension – now the challenge is to make sure hardworking people with every type of employer get to enjoy this major financial benefit.

This is a fun and quirky campaign but behind it lies a very serious message. We need everyone to know they are entitled to a workplace pension – and we need all employers to understand their legal responsibility to their staff, but also to feel more positive about engaging with workplace pensions.

This government is committed to providing security for working people at every stage of their lives, and that includes giving people the chance to plan for a financially secure retirement. Automatic enrolment is a big part of that.

Since 2012, more than 5.4 million workers have been automatically enrolled into a workplace pension by almost 61,000 employers. By the time the process is complete in 2018, it is estimated that around 9 million workers will either be newly saving or saving more into a workplace pension thanks to the policy.

The new campaign will include radio, print, online and outdoor advertising and will run for the remainder of this year and into 2016. It is being coordinated jointly by the Department for Work and Pensions and The Pensions Regulator.

Chief Executive of The Pensions Regulator, Lesley Titcomb, said:

Automatic enrolment has been successfully introduced across the UK’s large and medium employers. This campaign aims to raise awareness amongst small and micro employers that they cannot ignore workplace pensions.

Our website and the letters we send out to employers have been updated to ensure they have clear information that is relevant to them and helps them understand what they need to do, and when, to comply with the law.

Automatic enrolment has already fundamentally changed the way society approaches saving into workplace pensions. Instead of opting in, as was the case in the past, all qualifying employees of large and medium-sized firms are now automatically enrolled by their employer provided they are over the age of 22 and earn more than £10,000 a year.

This means that, as well as paying in themselves, their employer also makes a contribution to their financial future.

Figures show that only around 10% of people who are automatically enrolled are choosing to opt out, significantly fewer than was expected when the policy was first developed.

As a result the total amount that is expected to be saved each year by 2019/20 has been revised upwards to about £15 billion – more than a third more than the previous estimate of around £11 billion.

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