Last year the Charities Pensions Club (CPC) was delighted to welcome Shelley Morris from the Living Wage Foundation to speak to our club members about the Living Pension at our first ever 1-day conference. Shelley joined the Living Wage Foundation in 2021, to lead the design and delivery of the Living Pension standard, which aims to provide security and stability for workers in retirement. 
Research published in 2022 showed 4 in 5 workers in defined contribution schemes (16 million people) are not saving at levels likely to meet basic needs in retirement. In March 2023, the Living Wage Foundation launched a new Living Pension accreditation for employers who want to help workers build a pension pot that meets living costs in retirement. 
Ten months on, the Foundation have just reached 25 accredited employers, of which nine are small to medium sized charities and non-profit organisations. Some charities were already meeting the standard, signing up to demonstrate their commitment and show others it can be done, while others have made changes to their benefit structure to gain accreditation and increase contributions for their employees. 
Feedback to date has been positive, with some employees reporting that their pension benefits make them feel valued and more financially secure. The Living Pension not only serves as a powerful tool for bolstering staff financial stability in the long run but also proves instrumental in enhancing recruitment and retention efforts for organisations. 
“We recognise that it is a challenging time for charities and that finding the funds to increase pension contributions is difficult. The Living Pension standard is flexible to work within existing structures and employers can choose a cash or percentage approach, allowing them to target any additional spend on those earning the least. Coastline Housing were the first organisation to use the cash benchmark, allowing them to manage their costs, whilst increasing the amount going into DC pensions for a significant proportion of their staff, which is a fantastic outcome.” 
Shelley Morris, Living Wage Foundation. 
The Living Wage Foundation has recently published a detailed case study with Coastline Housing on why they chose to sign up to the Living Pension, their journey to accreditation and the impact it has subsequently had. The case study provides a really interesting read for any charity or not-for-profit considering the Living Pension scheme – in particular two things stood out to us. 
Firstly, one of Coastline Housing’s reasons for adopting the Living Pension was “as a charity providing social housing and support services, we see first-hand how low wages can contribute to housing inequality. It is important for us to set out our stall as a fair and equitable employer…”. Indeed this commitment aligns with discussions within the CPC, highlighting the need for charities and not-for-profits to play a role in promoting fair employer practices, especially concerning pension contributions, as a means to contribute to the development of sustainable communities. 
Secondly, Coastline Housing identified an improvement in pensions engagement among staff as a significant benefit of adopting the Living Pension. Acknowledging the challenges in fostering awareness and understanding of pension schemes among employees, Coastline Housing noted the positive impact of the Living Pension in overcoming these barriers with the support provided by the Living Pension with clear communications. Pensions communications regularly comes up as a hot topic in our member discussions, primarily in how to improve it. 
You can read Coastline Housing’s case study here
The CPC’s actuarial and DC consultancy partner Isio has been heavily involved with the Living Pension, initially as part of the steering group, looking at the research presented and helping to convert this into something simple and easy to implement. 
“We believe the Living Pension standard shines a light on the inadequacy of pension saving in the UK. It is excellent to see that it is already having a tangible impact, improving the likely retirement outcomes for many. There is still a long way to go, particularly regarding the needs of “generation rent”, and making the reward package more flexible to enable the right balance between pensions and housing in retirement and work.” 
Paul Moffatt, Director, Isio 
The Living Wage Foundation collaborates closely with organisations aspiring to achieve accreditation, guiding them through the accreditation process to become recognised as a Living Pension employer. This valuable scheme becomes an excellent addition, particularly for charities with the financial means to support it. Your charity can find out more about the Living Pension standard and register interest in accreditation here. 
For more information about Charities Pensions Club, please contact 
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