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Volume 706: debated on Thursday 18 December 2008


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many members there are currently in public sector final salary pension schemes; how many there are in private sector final salary pension schemes; and how many there are in other types of scheme; and what is their assessment of the disparity in members' ultimate benefits between the types of scheme. [HL178]

The latest available information on the estimated number of active members in occupational pension schemes is set out in the table below.

Numbers of active members of occupational pension schemes, by type of scheme and sector, for the year 2007 in UK

Public sector

Defined benefit schemes (millions)


Private sector

Defined benefit schemes (millions)


Private sector

Defined contribution schemes (millions)


Source: ONS Occupational Pension Schemes Survey (OPSS)


(4) Pension scheme membership figures were taken from the Occupational Pension Scheme Survey. Data for 2007 were published by ONS in September 2008. The coverage of the survey is the UK.

(5) Figures presented are totals for active members of defined benefit and defined contribution pension scheme membership.

(6) For the purpose of the Occupational Pension Schemes Survey, hybrid schemes were treated as defined benefit schemes.

In addition in 2007-08, there were 8.9 million members of personal and stakeholder pensions.

Total number of members of personal and stakeholder pensions for the year 2007-08 in UK

Personal pensions (millions)


Stakeholder pensions (millions)


Total (millions)


Source: HMRC, 2007-08

Note that an individual may be an active member of a number of different pension schemes simultaneously.

No assessment of the disparity in members' benefits between scheme types is available. The benefits a member receives are dependent on the individual scheme design, contribution level and investment performance. In the case of defined benefit schemes, it also depends on earnings and how long members stay in the scheme. Benefits therefore vary greatly between schemes of the same type. As a result, it is not appropriate to compare the disparity of benefits between scheme types.