First major trials of opt-out workplace savings reveal huge potential for financial inclusion: new research from Nest Insight

First major trials of opt-out workplace savings reveal huge potential for financial inclusion: new research from Nest Insight
  • The UK lags behind other comparable countries in our rates of saving. One quarter of adults in the UK have less than £100 in savings and half would struggle to pay an unexpected £300 bill – leaving them vulnerable in emergencies 
  • There are inequality gaps between people who tend to have savings and those who are more likely not to. People on lower and volatile incomes, people from a minority ethnic background, people with disabilities and younger people, for example, are less likely to have a buffer for emergencies. 
  • New research from Nest Insight demonstrates that opt-out workplace savings schemes are not only a powerful tool to increase the numbers of people saving, but also that they are inclusive, by closing gaps for those people less likely to have money set aside already.  

New research published today by Nest Insight, the public benefit research centre, shows how opt-out workplace savings schemes can close the gaps between people who have savings, and those who are financially vulnerable. Our research shows that supporting employers to offer payroll saving on an opt-out basis should be at the heart of any strategy to address financial exclusion. Opt-out payroll saving could be a game changer at getting us closer to a world in which no one is left behind and savings are for all.  

Since 2021, Nest Insight has been working with major employers Bupa Care Services, the Co-op and SUEZ on the first major trials of opt-out workplace savings to take place. These trials have compared the different approaches that forward-thinking employers can take to support the financial wellbeing of their workforce. They have shown the dramatic increase in the numbers of people saving when new employees are enrolled into setting aside money regularly, with the ability to opt-out should they choose. 

New analysis from those trials, published today in the report ‘Savings for All, shows that an opt-out approach is an empowering, popular and inclusive way to make sure nobody is left behind. It reaches people who do not have a savings buffer already more effectively than other approaches. It can be especially inclusive for people with lower financial confidence and for those working part time. It is also potentially more inclusive for renters, disabled people, Universal Credit recipients, those whose main language is not English, and people on volatile incomes than approaches where people need to actively sign up to save.   

Jo Phillips, Nest Insight’s Director of Research and Innovation, comments 

“The rich and robust evidence base built from these trials tells us that workplace payroll savings schemes can be powerful, but only achieve their potential when offered under an opt-out basis. As with auto-enrolment into pensions, an opt-out approach to workplace savings barriers to help people who want to get started with saving to do so.  

“We now have a robust evidence base showing how effective this can be in inclusively supporting low- and moderate-income workers to build financial security, including those who are more likely to have been excluded from saving previously. There is huge potential here to improve financial resilience, mental health and productivity for millions of people. Supporting employers to enrol their workforce into savings on an opt-out basis should be a central pillar of any financial inclusion strategy. 

“We are very grateful to The BlackRock Foundation and to the Money and Pensions Service, whose support for Nest Insight made these trials possible, and to the employers and providers who have worked with us.” 


Notes to editors

Read the report: Savings for all (PDF)

About Nest Insight 

Nest Insight is a public-benefit research and innovation centre. Our mission is to find ways to support people to be financially secure, both today and into retirement. We conduct rigorous, cutting-edge research, working collaboratively with industry and academic partners to understand the financial challenges facing low- and moderate-income households. We use these data-driven insights to identify and test practical, real-world solutions. Our findings are shared widely and freely so that people around the world can benefit from our work. For more information, visit 

About Nest Insight’s strategic partner 

BlackRock is a global investment manager serving the UK market for more than 30 years with a purpose to help more and more people experience financial wellbeing. BlackRock’s Emergency Savings Initiative is made possible through philanthropic support from the BlackRock Foundation and the BlackRock Charitable Gift Fund. The initiative brings together partner companies and non-profit financial health experts to make saving easier and more accessible for low- to moderate-income people across the US and UK, ultimately helping more people to establish an important financial safety net. For more information, visit  

About our programme partner 

The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) vision is ‘everyone making the most of their money and pensions’. MaPS is an arm’s-length body committed to providing access to the information and guidance people across the UK need to make effective financial decisions over their lifetimes. For more information, visit