B&Q to launch financial education plan

EXCLUSIVE: B&Q is to launch a financial education programme for employees in November.

The DIY retailer’s parent company, Kingfisher, will roll out the programme as a result of auto-enrolment, which has increased participation in its money purchase pension scheme to 17,000 employees, nearly 93% of the workforce.

B&Q’s financial education programme, branded Saving for Your Future, will include a DVD that explains what employees should be aware of around auto-enrolment and the pension scheme.

Dermot Courtier, head of group pensions at Kingfisher, said: “The DVD will be sent to the stores and the retail HR community can brief employees at their appropriate team meetings.

“There will be copies made available on the trustee website, and it will be backed up by PowerPoint presentations on each of the subject areas. Employees can just sign in and view the information.”

B&Q employees were auto-enrolled into the money purchase scheme, provided by Zurich, on 31 March 2013, three months after its staging date. The first contributions were then taken from payroll on 1 April. Courtier added: “We auto-enrolled 14,078 people with effect from April 2013.”

Its opt-out rate was 6.2%, which was lower than it had expected. “In the planning stages, we had spoken to the [Department for Work and Pensions] and [the National Employment Savings Trust], and the expectation was that there would be auto-enrolment opt-out rates of around 25-30%, but it didn’t materialise,” said Courtier.

B&Q is also planning to increase its pension contribution rates gradually. Auto-enrolled employees are currently paying 1% and will be matched by the employer at 2%. Contribution rates will then increase in line with the auto-enrolment legislation, at 3% employee and 3% employer in 2017, and 5% employee and 4% employer in 2018.

Courtier added: “I think that has had some impact on why the opt-out rates are lower. Generally, we’ve found, where similar organisations like ourselves have auto-enrolled, and they have phased in the contribution rates, they are finding opt-out rates to be below 10%. Where organisations have put in higher contribution rates, maybe 3% match, the opt-out rates are coming in at around 14%.”