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The Impact of Matching on Savings in 
the U.K. Savings Gateway Program
Will Price
The Saving Gateway was a government pilot program that used matching contribu-
tions to increase saving by people with low incomes. Two separate pilots experimented 
with different matching rates, contribution ceilings, eligibility rules, and recruitment 
mechanisms. The likelihood of joining the pilot doubled as the match rate increased from 
20 percent to 50 percent but did not increase further as the match rose to 100 percent. 
Once in the program, the ceiling on how much a person could contribute each week 
seemed to have a much larger impact on saving than the match rate. For the low-income 
target group, the pilots led to new saving rather than a redirection of existing saving 
from other sources. Important issues of potential selectivity bias need to be considered in 
evaluating pilot results.
T
his chapter reviews the experience of the Saving Gateway in the United Kingdom, a 
government program that used matching contributions to increase saving by people 
with low incomes (HM Treasury 2001). Two pilots were implemented, the first in 2002–
04 and the second in 2005–07. The pilots experimented with different matching rates, 
contribution ceilings, eligibility rules, and recruitment mechanisms.
In 2008, the Labour government then in power decided to roll out the Saving Gate-
way nationally (HM Treasury 2008a, 2008b). The launch, scheduled for July 2010, would 
have covered up to 8 million people, about 20 percent of the population between the 
ages of 16 and 65. Following the general election in May 2010, the incoming Conserva-
tive–Liberal Democrat coalition government canceled the planned scheme as part of its 
broader program of fiscal retrenchment (HM Treasury 2010).
The Saving Challenge
Successive governments in the United Kingdom have sought to increase both aggregate 
saving levels and particular forms of saving. There have been a range of policies to encour-
age both pension and nonpension saving.
1
 A common feature of these schemes was the 
use of tax relief to provide the financial incentive.
Despite these and other interventions, assets, savings, and overall wealth remain 
unequally distributed in the United Kingdom. Figure 6.1 shows this wide dispersion. It 
shows that the lowest income deciles have negative financial assets on average.
The Saving Gateway was an experiment in using matching contributions—gov-
ernment cash payments that matched an amount saved by an individual—as a tool that 
would increase saving levels in a way that was fairer and more effective than tax relief 
alone (HM Treasury 2004). The approach was to be fairer because the progressive rates of 

134 
MATCHING CONTRIBUTIONS FOR PENSIONS: A REVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE
income tax in the United Kingdom provide a greater monetary incentive to higher earners 
through tax relief than lower earners—and gave no incentive at all to nontaxpayers. The 
experiment with matching contributions aimed to be more effective because the concept 
of a match was expected to be easier to understand than tax relief. Interest in the concept 
had been stimulated by examples of matching in Australia and the United States and 
the general realization that tax-based incentives exclude a significant proportion of the 
population.
The policy was part of a more all-encompassing strategy on saving that aimed to 
look across the life cycle and across the different methods through which individuals built 
up assets. It was also intended to highlight the link between debt and assets. The strategy 
distinguished between debt held by (usually) wealthy individuals (for example, to finance 
housing) and often very small amounts of (very high-cost) debt held by low-income indi-
viduals. These small but high-cost debts can trap people in a cycle of debt and repayment 
and prevent the build-up of even low stocks of assets.
2
The policy was not without critics, even at the outset. The range of arguments 
against matching design included the need to avoid distorting what might be efficient 
individual decisions and the fact that a matched saving account may be less effective than 
other interventions, such as income transfers, increases in spending on programs that tar-
get the poor, or financial education programs (Emmerson and Wakefield 2003
3
). Support-
ers of the matching approach believed that it would provide a fairer and more effective 
tool with which people, particularly low-income people, could increase saving (see, for 
example, Sodha and Lister 2006).
FIGURE 6.1  Aggregate wealth in Great Britain, by income decile and type of wealth, 2008–10 
−500

500
1,000
1,500
2,000
2,500
3,000
3,500
4,000
4,500
5,000
1 2
3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10 
£, billions
decile
private pension wealth (excluding state pensions)  
physical wealth 
financial wealth (net and excluding business assets)  
property wealth (net) 
SOURCE: Wealth and Assets Survey, U.K. Office for National Statistics.

6.  THE IMPACT OF MATCHING ON SAVINGS IN THE U.K. SAVINGS GATEWAY PROGRAM 
135
The Saving Gateway Pilots
Table 6.1 sets out a timeline of key events in the history of the Saving Gateway. Nine 
years elapsed between the initial policy proposals and the planned national launch, partly 
because there were two rounds of pilots (although even with a single pilot, the gap would 
have been six years), highlighting that the significant benefits of piloting have to be 
weighed against the inevitable delay it introduces. The progression from the first to the 
second pilot and then to roll-out was quite swift at each stage. The political window of 
opportunity can close even for projects whose evaluations indicate that they are success-
ful. In the absence of other policy options that have been as rigorously tested, alternatives 
may be introduced that are less effective or more expensive, or the negative conditions that 
motivate the program can remain unaddressed.
PILOT 1
An initial pilot of 1,500 accounts was conducted in 2002–04. A final evaluation report 
was published in March 2005 (Kempson, McKay, and Collard 2005). The initial pilot 
had a 100 percent match rate. Participants could save up to £375 over 18 months at up 
TABLE 6.1  Timeline of the Saving Gateway
Activity
Date
Initial policy proposals
2001
Development of initial pilot
2001–02
First pilot
August 2002–November 2004
Final evaluation of fi rst pilot
March 2005
Second pilot
March 2005—February 2007
Interim evaluation of second pilot
July 2006
Final evaluation of second pilot
May 2007
Announcement of national roll-out in 2010 and consultation on details 
of the scheme to inform roll-out
March 2008
Summary of responses to consultation announcement of 50 percent 
match rate
December 2008
Saving Gateway Accounts Act passed
July 2009
Final Labour Budget confi rms July 2010 launch
March 2010
U.K. general election
May 2010
First Conservative-Liberal coalition government budget announces 
that scheme will be canceled
June 2010
Planned launch
July 2010
Saving Gateway Accounts Act repealed
December 2010
SOURCE: Author, based on government documents. 

136 
MATCHING CONTRIBUTIONS FOR PENSIONS: A REVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE
to £25 a month (for example, a maximum of 15 full contributions).
4
 The match was then 
applied at the end of the period. The money could be used for any purpose, in contrast to 
experiments in other countries that restrict money to certain uses. In four of the five areas, 
community groups helped find potential low-income participants, who were the target 
group for the accounts.
5
 These groups were part of a separate pilot, called the Commu-
nity Finance and Learning Initiative. Although financial education services were available 
for Saving Gateway participants, few people took up the offer, which hence appeared to 
have little impact on whether people joined the pilot. In the fifth area, letters were sent to 
people’s homes to alert them to the pilot.
The evaluation of the second pilot was largely positive. Its small size limited the 
design parameters that could be tested and the degree to which the results could be extrap-
olated to the broader population. The evaluation used a combination of questionnaires
actual data from the matched account provider, and face-to-face interviews. A reference 
group not offered the account was used as a control.
Relative to the maximum achievable account balance of £375, the mean balance at 
the end of the pilot (18 months) was £282 and the median was £375.
6
 Before the pilot, 
56 percent of the people who participated in the pilot had no reported savings, 13 percent 
had less than £200, and only 17 percent had more than £500.
The pilot increased saving. The question is whether the saving that accrued was 
additional or money that was transferred from other balances or borrowed.
The evaluation of the program concluded that the pilot “encouraged genuinely new 
saving among participants. Most were finding the money they saved from their regular 
income. There was hardly any evidence that people had either borrowed the money or 
transferred it from other savings accounts” (Kempson, McKay, and Collard 2005, 47).
The government’s 2008 consultation on the national roll-out of the scheme con-
cluded that “there was evidence that the scheme led to a change in saving behaviour, with 
41 percent of savers still saving three or more months after the pilot had finished and 
32 percent of savers saying that they were more likely to plan for retirement.” In addition, 
“a high proportion of account holders (60 percent) agreed that saving into a Saving Gate-
way account had made them feel more financially secure” (HM Treasury 2008b, 8–9).
Table 6.2 shows the range of responses from qualitative surveys at account opening 
and account maturity. In general the transitions are positive, meaning that the percentage 
of people who said they did not save at all fell.
7
PILOT 2
On the strength of the (interim) evaluation of the first pilot program, the government 
implemented a new, much larger pilot in 2005.
8
 The second pilot included variations in 
key parameters and contribution levels. It therefore enabled testing of the effects of dif-
ferent match rates and contribution ceilings. It also included people thought to be well 
outside any potential target group, in order to test whether and at what point diminish-
ing returns from expenditures on incentives set in. The pilot also aimed to test recruit-
ment mechanisms by using telephone and direct mail that could be scalable to a national 
program. This feature was added because use of community groups and the bundling of 
financial education in the first pilot were deemed too expensive to include in a national 
scheme.

6.  THE IMPACT OF MATCHING ON SAVINGS IN THE U.K. SAVINGS GATEWAY PROGRAM 
137
Control and treatment groups were randomly selected from three databases: ben-
efit records; random-digit dialing, using databases of phone numbers; and letters sent 
to addresses randomly drawn from a directory of household addresses. A control group 
was selected that had the right mix of the proposed target group. Members of the con-
trol group were asked the same questions on saving behavior at the start and end of the 
pilot but were not offered the account. The treatment group was offered the account. 
Some refused but agreed to participate in the evaluation, allowing researchers to identify 
whether being offered an account had any impact even if the offer was refused. Some 
members of the treatment group accepted and opened the account. The evaluation used 
surveys of each group at the beginning and end of the pilot, some face-to-face interviews, 
and administrative account data from the account provider, Halifax Bank, a British bank 
(now HBOS).
The second pilot was larger, with 22,000 accounts. It tested three different match 
rates (20 percent, 50 percent, and 100 percent) across six areas of the United Kingdom. It 
also tested different monthly contribution ceilings (£25, £50, and £125) and included a 
much wider income range, in order to determine whether and at what point diminishing 
returns to matching set in.
Table 6.3 shows the mean and median contributions, the match rate, and the con-
tribution ceiling in the six pilot areas. The table shows that there was some evidence that 
a higher overall match led to higher contributions (but with rapidly diminishing returns). 
TABLE 6.2  Pilot participants’ approach to saving at beginning and end of Saving Gateway Pilot 1 
Approach to saving at account opening
Approach to saving at account maturity
I don’t really 
save at all
I tend to 
put money 
away for no 
particular 
reason
I save up to 
buy things I 
want or need
I tend to put 
money away 
for the long 
term
Total % with 
each answer 
at maturity
I don’t really 
save at all
34
20
12
7
18
I tend to 
put money 
away for no 
particular 
reason
8
35
10
12
12
I save up to 
buy things I 
want or need
40
33
67
27
50
I tend to put 
money away 
for the long 
term
18
13
12
53
19
Total % with 
each answer 
at opening
31
8
47
14
100
NOTE: Shaded boxes show the same answer given in each survey (for example, of the people who said at account open-
ing that they don’t really save, 34 percent gave the same answer at the end, and 8 percent, 40 percent, and 18 percent 
reported that they now saved, for a range of reasons). Movement down each column shows an increased attachment to 
saving after the pilot.

138 
MATCHING CONTRIBUTIONS FOR PENSIONS: A REVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE
However, the far more dominant impact was the ceiling on monthly contributions. Par-
ticipants who were offered the lowest 20 percent matching rate for their contributions but 
were allowed the higher £125 monthly limit made larger contributions than participants 
offered a 50 percent or 100 percent match but constrained to a lower contribution ceiling. 
Most people saved up to the contribution ceiling. This result is generally consistent with 
experience in other settings (see chapter 15), which indicates that the framing of the terms 
of the match affect behavior.
The higher match rate had a greater impact on the likelihood of opening an account. 
In the two areas where people were offered a 20 percent match, the average participation 
rate was less than 9 percent. In the three areas offered a 50 percent match, the average rate 
was about 20 percent. In the one area with a 100 percent match, the conversion rate was 
also about 20 percent.
9
 These findings suggest that the match rate influences both the par-
ticipation decision and the amount of saving by people who chose to participate. Higher 
matches could be offered in the early years of a program to get people into the scheme, 
with the rate reduced in subsequent years.
Overall, the evaluation of the second pilot showed a 34 percent increase in the prob-
ability that people who opened an account would significantly increase their saving. The 
results showed some decrease in spending by participants on discretionary items, implying 
that substitution away from other expenditures was a source for the extra saving. There 
was little or no evidence that participants borrowed to “invest” in the pilot. Set against the 
positive evidence was the fact that statistical tests could not conclusively demonstrate an 
increase in the measure of overall net worth, as would be expected if saving had increased. 
There was evidence that the low-income group appeared to be increasing overall saving by 
much more than the higher-income group.
Selectivity Bias
Whether these results reflected unobserved differences (selectivity bias) was a key concern. 
To address this question, the evaluators used two econometric estimation strategies. Their 
central concern was identifying the impact of the Saving Gateway accounts. The random 
TABLE 6.3  Mean and median saving balances in Saving Gateway Pilot 2
Area
Match rate (%)
Contribution 
ceiling (£)
Conversion rate (%)
Net monthly 
contribution (£)
Final balance (before 
match added) (£)
Median
Mean
Median
Mean
1
20
50
6.5 50
33
750
543
2
20
125
10.3 125
89
2,000
1,546
3
50
50
21.8
50
39
800
680
4
50
25
16.2
25
21
400
349
5
50
25
22.8
25
20
400
343
6
100
25
19.7
25
20
400
338
SOURCE: Emmerson and others 2007.

6.  THE IMPACT OF MATCHING ON SAVINGS IN THE U.K. SAVINGS GATEWAY PROGRAM 
139
control group (the group not offered accounts) provided a strong control. It allowed fully 
randomized experimental comparison of the impact of being offered an account on saving 
rates, because there was no selection bias.
There were concerns about selection bias in comparing people who opened accounts 
and people who declined to do so. Indeed, there were observable differences between peo-
ple who did and did not open accounts when offered the opportunity. Account openers 
tended to be better educated, earn more, and live closer to a branch of the provider. The 
econometric results included these observable characteristics in the explanatory variables 
to try and control for their influence. Of course, they could not account for any unob-
served differences in the groups that made account openers more likely to respond to the 
incentives.
Most of the results presented in the second evaluation report focused on the differ-
ence between people offered accounts (regardless of whether they opened one) and the 
control group. For these two groups, there was no selection bias. But these comparisons 
do not evaluate the impact of actually opening and participating in the accounts over 
the period of the pilot. Doing so requires comparing account openers with both control 
groups—and an assumption or judgment about whether the differences in saving are the 
result of the policy, of unobservable differences, or a combination of both.
Both sets of results are presented here, each needing a caveat. Most people offered 
an account chose not to open one. People who did open an account may have unobserved 
characteristics that introduce selection bias. This bias may affect the results, even though 
researchers controlled for age, sex, employment, race, housing tenure, education, health, 
income, household composition, and numeracy.
Impact on Saving, Consumption, and Overall Net Worth 
As highlighted above, the impact on saving, consumption, and overall net worth depends 
on whether the comparison is made between people offered an account or between people 
who actually opened an account and the control group. Among people offered an account, 
there is limited evidence of an increased probability of increased saving, some evidence of 
reduced spending on purchases outside the home, such as dining out, and no evidence of 
any change in net worth (table 6.4). Among people who actually opened an account, there 
is strong evidence of an increase in the probability of saving more and reduced spending 
on food consumed outside the home. But even for this group there is no evidence of a 
change in net worth. 
These results pose something of a conundrum, because in the qualitative evalua-
tions, people generally reported saving more out of current income rather than transferring 
money from other accounts (though a significant minority of higher-income participants 
reported recycling existing savings). If people are increasing saving out of current income 
as a result of the pilot and increasing their balance in the new account, net worth should 
be rising. 
The Planned National Roll-Out
In response to the second evaluation report, the government decided to create a 
national scheme. A 2010 launch was announced in the 2008 Budget. Alongside the 

140 
MATCHING CONTRIBUTIONS FOR PENSIONS: A REVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE
announcement, a consultation was published on the way in which the national scheme 
would operate. The government consultation summed up the results of the evaluation 
that provided the justification for the roll-out as including the following factors (among 
others):
 
• Individuals were overwhelmingly positive about the effect of matching as a sim-
ple and easily understood incentive to save.
 
• It was not necessary to offer match rates as generous as pound-for-pound in order 
to incentivize people to save.
 
• The pilots led to new saving, particularly among those on lower incomes. How-
ever, those on higher incomes were able to recycle existing saving.
 
• Those living closer to a Halifax branch were more likely to open an account, 
demonstrating the importance of ease of access.
 
• Savers learned through learning by doing and welcomed support and guidance at 
account opening and maturity. However, voluntary opt-in to financial education 
did not work.
 
• There were financial inclusion benefits from extending a structured matched sav-
ings account to people on lower incomes. Many of these benefits are around 
formalizing informal savings, promoting regular saving, and getting people to 
engage with financial institutions for the first time (HM Treasury 2008b).
To ease administration, policy makers decided that eligibility for an existing ben-
efit or tax credit would confer eligibility for a Saving Gateway account. Up to 8 million 
people—some 20 percent of the working-age population—were to be eligible, making the 
scheme a potentially very significant intervention. The final match rate announced after 
the consultation was 50 percent. Accounts would last two years, with a monthly contribu-
tion ceiling of £25.
The evaluation results showed that the ceiling had a significant effect on behavior, 
as many people seemed to treat it as advice or a target level of savings. Consequently, 
choosing a ceiling that was the lowest tested in the pilots was likely to be an effective 
TABLE 6.4  Impact of Saving Gateway pilot on saving, consumption, and net worth
Event
% of all participants 
offered an account
% of all participants who 
opened an account
Probability of increasing saving by more than 
twice the monthly contribution ceiling
5.3* 34.2* 
Probability of spending more than £25 ($40) 
on food outside the home 
−4.2* –21.8* 
Probability of increasing net worth
1.0
4.8
Probability of increasing net worth by more 
than twice the monthly contribution ceiling
–0.2
−1.2 
SOURCES: IFS and Ipsos Mori 2006; Emmerson and others 2007.
NOTE: *Signifi cant at 1 percent level.

6.  THE IMPACT OF MATCHING ON SAVINGS IN THE U.K. SAVINGS GATEWAY PROGRAM 
141
way to control costs. Setting a low ceiling would also reduce the problem of savings 
substitution, in which people with higher incomes and higher existing savings recycled 
those savings to get the match. In addition, given that some people might try to game 
the system by recycling savings from noneligible friends or relatives, limiting contribu-
tions to the lower level helped constrain costs. However, it would be difficult to prevent 
such gaming once the system became an established part of the savings infrastructure, 
given that accounts were short term and complete access was to be allowed at account 
maturity.
Complete freedom of access to funds in the accounts was in contrast to other coun-
tries, which tried to mandate the use of savings for education or home purchase. Although 
restrictions may have merits, if the aim is to provide people with savings for a “rainy day” 
and increase flexibility for the unexpected, it is important to allow flexibility on the use of 
the savings.
The government introduced and passed the legislation to authorize the scheme in 
2009 (the Saving Gateway Accounts Act 2009). It then worked with potential suppliers 
and interested parties, such as groups working with low-income people, to craft the final 
design and plan the roll-out.
10
The General Election and the End of the Saving Gateway Scheme
The launch date was set for July 2010. In May 2010, the United Kingdom held a gen-
eral election, in which a Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition replaced the Labour 
government. Against the backdrop of challenging public finances, the new government 
announced in its first budget in June 2010 that it could not afford to extend the Saving 
Gateway (HM Treasury 2010).
Although the new government scrapped the scheme, the concept of matched sav-
ing for low-income people has appeal across the political spectrum. It has a clear fair-
ness angle in providing incentives for a group typically excluded from tax incentive–based 
approaches, which typically benefit the better-off. It also has a clear “self-help” ratio-
nale. Personal responsibility and control over finances underpin individuals’ attempts to 
improve their own lives; initial assistance from the government creates a virtuous circle 
that frees the state from the need to provide further assistance when individuals encounter 
inevitable income shocks. The absence of any controls over the use of the money is con-
sistent with a libertarian view of giving people control over their own decisions. Broad 
interest in helping people create their own savings on which to fall back on did not trans-
late into proposals to curtail their almost instant access to high-cost credit cards and store 
cards, which undermines many of the best intentions of would-be savers.
Conclusion and Policy Implications 
The Saving Gateway was an attempt to address the long-standing problem of low or nega-
tive saving by people with low incomes. It aimed to test matching as a new approach to 
engage and incentivize saving. The approach offered financial incentives that were easier 
to calculate and of significantly greater value than tax relief for the target group. Two 
pilots were conducted, both independently evaluated.

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MATCHING CONTRIBUTIONS FOR PENSIONS: A REVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE
The pilots provided positive qualitative evidence of the impact on people’s lives, 
including increased experiences of emotional well-being and the sense of being in control. 
Both showed that significant balances could be built up in a savings account by people 
with relatively low incomes.
The second pilot showed that low-income people who opened accounts significantly 
increased their savings and reduced their consumption. People with higher incomes were 
more likely to recycle existing savings, showing the importance of proper targeting of the 
incentives. 
A wide range of observable characteristics were controlled for. However, it is impos-
sible to rule out the chance that some unobserved characteristics could have driven the 
increased saving. The probability that participants in the second pilot increased overall 
saving relative to the control group was 34 percent. However, this probability fell to just 
5 percent once the impact of being offered but not actually opening an account was tested.
Following the pilots, the previous government decided to roll out the scheme nation-
ally. It was convinced of the benefits—and of the absence of viable alternatives to increase 
saving for low-income people. The planned roll-out directly incorporated many of the les-
sons from the pilots. The government elected in May 2010 canceled the national scheme 
on the grounds that it was unaffordable.
Several key lessons emerge from this experience:
 
• Matching seems to have a positive impact on saving. It provides a way to reach 
groups typically excluded from incentives to save based on tax relief. There are 
issues of deadweight—paying people to do things they would have done any-
way—once people outside the low-income target group are included. However, 
alternative programs (tax relief, direct grants, and financial education) face similar 
or greater problems and may well cost more. The do-nothing option is very likely 
to lead to a continuation of low saving and financial exclusion.
 
• There appear to be strong diminishing returns to more generous match levels—
certainly above 50 percent. Contribution ceilings appear to dominate match rates 
in terms of how much people actually save once they join the scheme, but more 
generous matches appear to make people more likely to take up the scheme in 
the first place. Future policy could offer a generous initial match to encourage 
participation and then reduce it.
 
• Piloting with independent evaluation is a crucial way to improve policy. There 
is an inevitable loss of control by policy makers, but there are real benefits to 
improving scheme design—or not going ahead with a policy that does not seem 
to deliver the promised benefit.
 
• Perfect experimental design is difficult if subjects need actively to choose to engage 
in a program (for example, by transferring their own money into accounts). Selec-
tivity issues inevitably occur even after controlling for a wide range of observable 
characteristics. There is still value in piloting, however, and using real people in 
real situations may well be preferable to simulated markets with more control.
 
• In an ideal world, the behavior of participants would be reviewed 5–10 years 
later. Testing payoffs such as developing a saving habit or avoiding high-cost debt 

6.  THE IMPACT OF MATCHING ON SAVINGS IN THE U.K. SAVINGS GATEWAY PROGRAM 
143
requires actual experience rather than reported intentions, which are often overly 
optimistic.
 
• Pilots increase the lead time between policy formulation and the establishment 
of a program. During this time, the window of opportunity for action may close, 
even for good programs. Finding ways to increase the number of pilots financed 
from research budgets and speed the implementation and evaluation of pilots 
would be useful.
 
• Political risk can affect the willingness of the private sector to participate as a 
delivery channel, because the investment in systems and training may be wasted if 
the scheme does not go ahead. Gaining some political consensus can help reduce 
the risk of government failure in delivering and sustaining an intervention.
 
• “Choice architecture” is important. A generous attention-grabbing match helped 
enroll people in the scheme—the equivalent of well-established marketing prac-
tice in many markets. Once they have an account, individuals seem to view con-
tribution ceilings as contribution targets. Scheme designers may thus have a high 
degree of control over the balances people accumulate in the accounts.
Notes
1.  Schemes included personal equity plans (PEPs), introduced in 1986; tax-exempt special sav-
ing accounts (TESSAs), introduced in 1990; and individual saving accounts (ISAs), which 
effectively replaced tax-exempt special saving accounts and personal equity plans, introduced 
in 1999.
2.  Although the argument was not made in these terms, the aim was to increase people’s con-
sumption and saving by helping them avoid wasting money on very high-cost unsecured debt 
(through credit cards and store credits, for example).
3.  Both authors were part of the team selected to produce the independent evaluation report on 
the second Saving Gateway pilot.
4.  Currency values in this chapter are given in U.K. pounds; £1 = $1.6132.
5.  People recruited were receiving various forms of employment and unemployment benefits. 
Maximum individual income was £11,000; maximum household income was £15,000.
6.  The median was higher than the mean because most people contributed the maximum but 
some did not—thus the median was also the maximum.
7.  Some people went backward: 7 percent of people who said they tended to put money away for 
the long term at account opening said they did not save at all when asked at account maturity. 
This result may reflect the fact that their circumstances changed in the interim, or it may be 
evidence of significant instability in people’s expressed preferences between surveys, which 
should introduce a note of caution in interpreting survey results.
8.  A second pilot was also chosen because by 2005 the public finance environment in the United 
Kingdom had already started to become tighter. As a result, funds for a national roll-out were 
not as readily available, despite some political and social pressure to start a national scheme 
right away. 
9.  The evaluation included more sophisticated econometric analysis on the conversion rate which 
did not alter the general message that there was an impact from the generosity of the match.

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MATCHING CONTRIBUTIONS FOR PENSIONS: A REVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE
10.  HMRC Saving Gateway news updates were designed “to let you know the what, how and 
when as we progress towards launch this summer” (HMRC is the U.K. tax authority) (HMRC 
2010). 
References
Emmerson, C., and M. Wakefield. 2003. “Increasing Support for Those on Lower Incomes: Is the 
Saving Gateway the Best Policy Response?” Fiscal Studies 24 (2): 167–95.
Emmerson, C., G. Tetlow, M. Wakefield, P. Harvey, N. Pettigrew, and R. Madden 2007. “Final 
Evaluation of the Saving Gateway 2 Pilot: Main Report.” Institute for Fiscal Studies and Ipsos 
Mori, London.
HM Treasury. 2001. “The Modernisation of Britain’s Tax and Benefit System.” No. 8 and No. 9, 
London.
—. 2004. “Pre-Budget Report: Opportunity for All: The Strength to Take the Long-Term 
Decisions for Britain.” London.
—. 2008a. “Budget 2008: Stability and Opportunity: Building a Strong, Sustainable Future.” 
London.
—. 2008b. “The Saving Gateway: Operating a National Scheme.” March, London.
—. 2010. “Budget 2010: Responsibility, Freedom, Fairness: A Five Year Plan to Rebuild the 
Economy.” June, London.
HMRC. 2010. “Saving Gateway News Updates Designed ‘To Let You Know the What, How and 
When as We Progress Towards Launch This Summer.’” London.
IFS (Institute for Fiscal Studies), and Ipsos Mori. 2006. “Interim Evaluation of Saving Gateway 2: 
A Report Prepared for Government.” London.
Kempson, E., S. McKay, and S. Collard. 2005. “Encouraging Saving among Low-Income House-
holds: Final Report on the Saving Gateway Pilot Project.” Personal Finance Research Centre, 
University of Bristol. 
Sodha, S., and Lister, R. 2006. “The Saving Gateway: From Principles to Practice.” Institute for 
Public Policy Research, London. 

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