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£50Billion at Risk, Stored in ‘Lost’ Pension Pots; PensionBee Warns

New research from PensionBee, the online pension provider, reveals that over £50billion stored in pensions is at risk of being misplaced in abandoned accounts or scattered across multiple lost pots.

The new PensionBee research estimates that at least 4.8 million pension pots were considered to be ‘lost’ among the UK population in 2023, with nearly one in 10 workers believing they could have lost a pension pot worth more than £10,000.

With the total number of UK pension pots expected to rise 130 per cent, from 106 million (at present) to 243 million by 2050, the number of lost pensions could skyrocket. This is due to more frequent job switching among younger workers and as a result of the ongoing impact of auto-enrolment, which has significantly increased workplace participation since its introduction in 2012.

Becky O’Connor, director of public affairs at PensionBee,
Becky O’Connor, director of public affairs at PensionBee

Becky O’Connor, director of public affairs at PensionBee, commented: “The amount of money lost track of in old pensions is already eye-watering, with more than £50billion already at risk of being left behind, but is set to reach national crisis levels over the coming years, as the number of pots accumulated through work rises and with it, the number of lost pensions.

“This research suggests the problem of lost pots is growing more urgent every year. The Government is working on a number of solutions to help solve it, including pension dashboards and new ‘pot for life’ proposals.

“For anyone who loses track of pensions, the result can, unfortunately, be a poorer retirement. It’s important to keep track of old paperwork, employer and pension provider names and policy numbers and if you would prefer to keep pensions together, consider consolidating them in one place.”

Younger workers are accruing a greater number of pensions

According to a sample of 2,000 UK adults, younger workers (under 35) have accrued a higher average number of pensions (2.4) than mid-career workers (35 to 54 years old; 2.1) and older workers (+55 years old; 1.7) despite a shorter career history.

Meanwhile, today’s youngest workers (age 18) are forecasted to accrue, on average, five pension pots by the age of 68. However, some people accumulate more than twenty separate pensions over a working lifetime.

Christopher Breen, head of economic insight at CEBR
Christopher Breen, head of economic insight at CEBR

Christopher Breen, head of economic insight at CEBR, also commented: “Younger people are moving jobs more frequently than was the case for previous generations.

“While people tend to switch employers less frequently as they get older, this will still lead to a higher number of pensions being accrued. This is before accounting for the role of auto-enrolment.

“Given this trend, it’s important that the government provides the necessary support and guidance for people to manage their pensions efficiently. With a rapidly ageing population, a healthy private pension system is vital for the long-term sustainability of public finances.”

Younger workers were more likely to believe they had lost a pension pot (25 per cent) compared to mid-career workers (17 per cent) and older workers (eight per cent) who, on average, had fewer pots to manage. PensionBee’s research also found that smaller pots, defined as being worth less than £10,000, are more prone (13 per cent of UK workers) to being misplaced compared to larger ones (nine per cent).

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