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by uma


Just over a quarter of savers surveyed (26%), who have a workplace pension, think that their current amount of pension saving will not be enough to get by on when it comes time to retire, a Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) survey has heard.

With UK households feeling the pinch off the back of the cost-of-living crisis, war in Ukraine and two years of Covid-19 restrictions, savers have reported that they have long-term concerns as to their financial health when they stop working.

In the survey, the PLSA found that those aged between 35 and 54 (29%) were most concerned that they wouldn’t have enough to live off, compared to those aged over 55 (20%). Just under a third of women were concerned (31%), compared to one in five men (21%).

Furthermore, 35% of those in low-income households – whose total income is up to £14k – and 31% with an income £14k – £28k stated their concerns. This figure drops to just one in five (20%) for those in households with an income of over £48k.

What Retirement Living Standards do savers want from their pension saving?

One in five people surveyed (21%) – who have a pension – say that they save into a pension to ensure that they have a minimum standard of living in retirement; a pension that meets all their basic needs.

Around two in five (41%) however, say they save to ensure they have a moderate standard of living in retirement – a pension that will meet their basic needs and allow them to do some of the things that they would like to do – while a third (33%) say they do so to ensure they have a comfortable living standard; saving enough to ensure that they have enough money to live comfortably, including doing most of the things they would like to do.

Preferred retirement lifestyle from pension saving Percentage of respondents
A pension that meets all their basic needs in retirement.

(RLS Minimum – £11k)

A pension that meets all their basic needs and allows them to do some of the things they would like to do in retirement.

(RLS Moderate – £21k)

A pension that meets all their basic needs and allows them to do most of the things they would like to do in retirement.

(RLS Comfortable – 34k)


When asked to think about what their current level of pension saving will provide for them in retirement, one in eight (12%) said that they didn’t know what Standard they would achieve, and one percent said that they never plan to fully retire.

The PLSA released its Retirement Living Standards back in 2019 – before being updated during 2021 to reflect modern living costs. The current Standards suggest that, roughly speaking, a single person will need about £11k a year to achieve the minimum living standard, £21k a year for moderate, and £34k a year for comfortable. For couples, it’s 17k-31k-50k. More information about the PLSA’s Retirement Living Standards can be found here.

A majority of people save to get either a moderate (41%) or comfortable (33%) Retirement Living Standard. However, far fewer people think their current pension saving will achieve this with slightly over a quarter (27%) saying moderate and just 14% comfortable.

How do we enable savers to achieve the standard of living they say they want from their pensions?

In order to help savers achieve a better standard of living in retirement, the PLSA continues to argue that the Government should increase the level of automatic enrolment* contributions from today’s 8% of a band of earnings to 12% of all salary in the early 2030s. Importantly, due to the cost of living crisis and the need for employers to prepare for any changes, like the Government, we do not think there should be any changes until the mid-2020s, and the biggest increases should be back end-loaded so the costs do not fall until 2030 or beyond.

Under our preferred approach, by 2030, the pension contribution would be “levelled-up” – a 10% contribution split evenly between employers and employees – with the employers asked to pay 2% more than now and employees not asked to make any additional contributions. Then, in the early 2030s, when affordable, employers and employees would be each asked to pay in an extra 1% so bringing the total contribution up to 12%.

Nigel Peaple, Director of Policy & Advocacy, PLSA, said: “We have long argued that current contribution levels are not likely to give people the level of retirement income they expect or need. As the Government seeks to ‘level-up’ the economy, narrowing wealth disparities between regions and different demographics, we think now is the right time for the Government to commit to levelling up pensions, gradually, over the next decade, in three affordable steps.

“First, the Government should implement its plans of extending pension savings to the over 18s, and commence pension saving on each pound of savings, from the mid-2020s. Then around the end of the decade, pensions should be “levelled up” so that employers match employee contributions. This would mean 10% of pay goes into pensions but would not require extra contributions by workers. Finally, when affordable, in the early 2030s, contributions should be increased to 12%.”

The research was conducted on behalf of the PLSA by Yonder Data Solutions from 10/01/22 to 11/01/22 with a nationally representative sample of 2,093 adults.