The Association of British Insurers (ABI), a UK trade body for insurance companies, claims figures for the fourth quarter of 2005 show a steady growth in individual pension saving and an encouraging increase in employer-sponsored stakeholder pensions.

The trade association reported total new business in the quarter of GBP3.1 billion APE (annual premium equivalent), a rise on the equivalent quarter in 2004 of 16%. Over the whole of 2005, total new business was GBP11.6 billion APE, an increase on 2004 of 13%.

Chris Kenny, ABI’s director of life and pensions, emphasized the significance of the increase in both regular and single premium employer-sponsored stakeholder pensions in view of the current debate about pension reform. Mr Kenny suggested such growth showed a willingness on the part of both individuals and employers to contribute to pension schemes through the workplace.

In spite of particularly encouraging results in the single premium individual pensions category, the fall in regular premium individual personal pensions prompted Mr Kenny to urge against complacency.

Mr Kenny commented: The ABI’s new model for pension saving, ‘partnership pensions’, is designed to build on this infrastructure to encourage people to save, rather than put new, risky structures in place. Opposition to employer contributions is misplaced clearly many employers are willing to help fund pensions for their employees. Let’s bring all of them up to that standard.