Warning of pension contributions shortfall may be overblown

The typical pension scheme member is only contributing 5% of pay to their pension, raising questions about whether they will have enough to retire on. Yet the situation may not be as gloomy as many people suggest.

Pension-scheme membership hit a record high last year, with some 46 million Britons enrolled in at least one workplace scheme, new official figures reveal. But, the typical pension scheme member is only contributing 5% of pay to their pension, plus their employer's contribution, raising questions about whether they will have enough to retire on.

On the one hand, the growth in pension-scheme membership under the auto-enrolment system introduced in 2012 represents a substantial success. The system requires all employers to offer staff a pension plan and pay into it on behalf of those who have not specifically opted out.

Over time, the minimum contribution levels have been significantly increased. In April 2018, the minimum contribution was set at 5% of salary, with employers ordered to pay at least 2% of this; these minimums were raised to 8% and 3% respectively in April 2019. And while the average total pension contribution made by members of defined-contribution schemes rose to 5% last year from 3.4% in 2017, members of the typical final-salary (defined benefit) pension plan enjoyed a 25.6% total contribution.

Yet the situation may not be as gloomy as these figures suggest. Young people will often have started saving much earlier than previous generations. And as Merryn Somerset-Webb pointed out recently, our pension system is currently in good shape.

According to figures from broker Interactive Investor, if you start work on £20,000 at 30, stay opted in, see your salary rise by 1% in real terms a year and make annual net returns of 5%, you will end with savings of nearly £200,000. "In terms of the absolute levels of assets in its pensions, the UK is one of the best-set countries in the world".

Recommended

Make sure your pension savings don't breach the lifetime allowance
Pensions

Make sure your pension savings don't breach the lifetime allowance

Don’t forget the lifetime allowance when reviewing your pension planning – breaching it could prove very costly, says David Prosser.
7 Jan 2022
How to track down your lost pension savings
Pensions

How to track down your lost pension savings

Some straightforward detective work could reunite you with pension savings from previous jobs that you may have mislaid.
20 Dec 2021
What to do if you still have a mortgage when you retire
Mortgages

What to do if you still have a mortgage when you retire

In the next few decades, many people will be paying back their home loans well into retirement. David Prosser explains their options.
7 Dec 2021
Making sense of the new minimum pension age rules
Pensions

Making sense of the new minimum pension age rules

The rules surrounding the minimum age at which you can start tapping into your retirement savings have been tweaked, but are still confusing. David Pr…
23 Nov 2021

Most Popular

Ask for a pay rise – everyone else is
Inflation

Ask for a pay rise – everyone else is

As inflation bites and the labour market remains tight, many of the nation's employees are asking for a pay rise. Merryn Somerset Webb explains why yo…
17 Jan 2022
Shareholder capitalism: why we must return power to listed companies’ ultimate owners
Investment strategy

Shareholder capitalism: why we must return power to listed companies’ ultimate owners

Under our system of shareholder capitalism it's not fund managers, it‘s the individual investors – the company's ultimate owners – who should be telli…
24 Jan 2022
Interest rates might rise faster than expected – what does that mean for your money?
Global Economy

Interest rates might rise faster than expected – what does that mean for your money?

The idea that the US Federal Reserve could raise interest rates much earlier than anticipated has upset the markets. John Stepek explains why, and wha…
6 Jan 2022