The UK’s lost pension mountain could be worth £20 billion – at least six times higher than previously estimated
The scale of the UK’s lost pensions mountain is exposed today by latest research carried out on behalf of the Association of British Insurers (ABI)
In the largest study yet on the subject, the Pensions Policy Institute (PPI) surveyed firms representing about 50% of the private defined contribution pensions market.
From this PPI found 800,000 lost pensions worth an estimated £9.7 billion.
It estimates that, if scaled up to the whole market, there are collectively around 1.6 million pots worth £19.4 billion unclaimed – the equivalent of nearly £13,000 per pot.
This figure is likely to be even higher as the research did not look into lost pensions held in the public sector, or with trust-based schemes typically run by employers.
Insurance providers make considerable efforts and spend millions every year trying to reunite people with lost or forgotten pensions.
In 2017 more than 375,000 attempts were made to contact customers, leading to £1 billion in assets being reunited with them.
However, firms are unable to keep pace with a mobile workforce that moves jobs and homes more often than ever before, ABI says digital solution through the Pensions Dashboard is now more important than ever.
This would enable anyone to see all their pension savings, including the State Pension, together in a single online place.
Nearly two-thirds of UK savers have more than one pension, and changing work patterns means that the number of people with multiple pensions will increase. People typically lose track of their pensions when changing jobs or moving home.
The average person will have around 11 different jobs over their lifetime, and move home 8 times. The Government predict that there could be as many as 50 million dormant and lost pensions by 2050.
Commenting on the research, Dr Yvonne Braun, ABI’s Director of Long-Term Savings and Protection, said:
“These findings highlight the jaw-dropping scale of the lost pensions problem. Unclaimed pensions can make a real difference to millions of savers who have simply lost touch with their pension providers.
“The industry has stepped up its efforts to re-connect savers with their lost nest eggs, developing a new framework launched earlier this year to help pension providers trace ‘gone-away’ customers more consistently.
But industry efforts can only go so far – we need a radical digital solution to cope with the way society is changing, or the problem will get worse.
“It is important that the Government stands by its promises to take forward the Pensions Dashboard. This project has cross-party support, with the backing of consumer groups, and could mean a more secure retirement for millions of savers.”
The UK Government has a free Pension Tracing Service – more information here: gov.uk/find-pension-contact-details
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