Automatic pensions enrolment for small businesses is to be delayed a year, Pensions Minister Steve Webb said today.

Announcing the move during Commons Work and Pensions questions, Webb says the Government will press ahead with the introduction of auto enrolment for pensions in 2012, but says small businesses with fewer than 50 staff will not have to begin enrolling their workers until May 2015.

Under the plan, all employees will eventually be part of a work-place pension scheme. The move was due to be phased in between October 2012 and February 2016, starting with larger firms.

Companies with fewer than 50 employees were due to begin opting their staff into a pension from April 2014, but this now won't happen until 13 months later.

Firms with fewer than 3,000 staff will find out their fate in January. They were due to begin the roll-out in July 2013.

What's more, the February 2016 end-date may also be pushed back. This will also be confirmed by the Government in January.

Webb says: "I'm pleased to confirm that we will be going ahead with the introduction of auto enrolment next year as planned and I can further confirm that all businesses remain in scope.

"We have however decided to extend the current five year implementation reform so that small businesses will not have to start enrolling their workers until the start of the next Parliament.

"Nevertheless, these revised plans will still result in more than half of all workers enrolled before the end of this Parliament. This is a positive programme and there will be no exemptions."

Webb says employees who are part of firms with more than 3,000 staff are due to be enrolled this side of July 2013, and will see no change.

Labour MP and chairman of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, Dame Anne Begg says she is "disappointed" to hear of the delay.