Auto-enrolment is helping thousands of people in jobs where it has not been traditional to save into a pension, the Department for Work and Pensions claimed today.
Citing official figures from the Office of National Statistics' Annual survey of hours and earnings data, the DWP said there had been a rise in pension saving across all occupational groups, with some of the biggest increases in sectors with low numbers of staff in schemes.
Sectors with the biggest rises in pension savers were sales and customer services - up 8%, an increase of 160,000. There was also a 5% (130,000) increase in savers working in elementary occupations such as security guards, cleaners and dinner ladies. A 1% (20,000) increase was recorded in caring, leisure and other occupations group, covering roles such as caretakers, childcare assistants and travel agents.
Pensions minister Steve Webb said: 'For the first time, thousands of hardworking people with jobs or businesses that have not traditionally provided pensions can start saving with a contribution from their employer, helping them towards a more prosperous future and restoring fairness in retirement.
'The tide is turning for pension saving in Britain after decades of decline.'
Commenting on the figures, Hargreaves Lansdown said auto-enrolment was 'touching the parts other pension initiatives had failed to reach'.
Laith Khalaf, the firm's head of corporate research, said: 'The success of the programme is integral to the government's plan to defuse the pensions time-bomb.
'So far, so good, but key challenges remain. Chief amongst them is making sure these new pension members stay on the savings wagon, and providing them with the financial education needed to make sense of the wide range of options now available when they hit retirement.'