Occupational Pension Schemes Survey Consultation

Closed 2 Aug 2019

Opened 20 Jun 2019

Feedback updated 24 Feb 2020

We asked

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) were keen to identify the specific uses of the Occupational Pension Scheme Survey (OPSS) statistics by its users so as to establish if continuation of the survey was warranted and, if so, what form the survey should take moving forward so as to meet user needs whilst representing maximum value for money.

As a result, the ONS ran a user consultation, from 20 June 2019 to 2 August 2019 to review the value of the OPSS.

We asked:

  • Which OPSS statistics do you (your organisation) find most helpful?
  • How do you (your organisation) currently use OPSS statistics?
  • What would be the impact on you (your organisation) if the OPSS was to cease as a survey?
  • Can your needs be partly or wholly met from alternative sources?
  • If the survey is to be retained or developed, would you contribute to the cost?
  • We asked for feedback on the following options:
    • Cease future collection and publication of OPSS
    • Continue to run the OPSS in its current basis
    • Continue to run the OPSS but as an abbreviated version, reviewing sample and form types)
    • We asked for a reason for their selection.

You said

You Said:

We received 2 responses to the consultation, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). Both said that they still utilise OPSS data, the ONS mostly for quality assurance of other surveys and the DWP for ad hoc policy analysis. Both respondents said that the extended, relatively consistent, time series of membership by type was extremely useful.

We would like to thank both respondents for taking the time to respond to the consultation.

We did

We Did:

The ONS does not think that the quality assurance of other surveys is a strong enough reason to merit continuance of the costly OPSS, and, that it is no longer essential given that the surveys mentioned are well enough established in their own right. The ONS also feels that the occasional use of some data for ad hoc policy analysis is not sufficient to merit its continuance and the very considerable burden on respondents alongside the costs involved. The ONS understands that the data could occasionally be valuable but most of it is not designed to answer current policy questions.

The ONS does think the points raised about the membership time series are valid. However, our internal quality assurance of the new Financial Survey of Pension Schemes (FSPS) shows that the membership figures are consistent with both the OPSS and administrative sources. Therefore, the FSPS now provides an extended, relatively consistent, time series of membership by type, which was one of the key requirements highlighted by both responses to our user consultation.

The ONS has made the decision to cease collection and publication of the annual OPSS so as to minimise duplication and respondent burden especially given that the ONS has successfully rolled out the quarterly Financial Survey of Pension Scheme (FSPS). However, the ONS will still publish the results of 2019 OPSS (in late June 2020).

To provide feedback, or if you have any questions about the project, please contact OPSS@ons.gov.uk

Results updated 24 Feb 2020



In December 2015, ONS initiated a consultation on a number of options for scaling back existing business survey operations including the OPSS. Respondents promoted the value of the OPSS statistical bulletin in informing policy, citing that ceasing the survey, whilst automatic enrolment to pension schemes was underway, would make it difficult to monitor the impact of this high-profile pensions policy. Based on this feedback, a decision was made to continue the survey. However new information suggests that this data is not being used as extensively as it once was. As a result we are consulting to review the value of this survey.

The phasing in of automatic enrolment is now complete. Furthermore, it has become apparent that much of the data collected by the survey is now available from alternative sources e.g. The Pensions Regulator (TPR) are also now releasing a DB landscape publication alongside their longer running DC Trust release.

We are therefore keen to identify the specific use of the OPSS statistics by users at this time, to establish if continuation of the survey is warranted and if so, what form the survey should take moving forward to meet user needs.



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