Are rising costs affecting pension savings?

Employees are being forced to rethink their retirement plans due to the cost-of-living crisis.

As financial pressures on UK employees continue to grow, new research by WEALTH at work has found that many people are having to rethink their retirement plans. It found that eight in 10 employees (83%) are concerned that the cost-of-living crisis means they will have to work longer before retiring to make up for a shortfall in their savings.

Worryingly, one in three (33%) believe that they won’t ever be able to afford to retire due to the cost-of-living increases. Some have even reduced or stopped their pension contributions altogether because of rising costs (13%), while almost three in 10 (29%) admit that they may consider stopping payments in the future, and one third (30%) may think about reducing future payments. This will be of particular concern especially when lower fixed-rate mortgage deals come to an end and if inflation doesn’t come down as quickly as initially thought. Further to this, one in 10 (10%) of those eligible to access their pension (i.e. those aged 55 or over) say they have withdrawn savings earlier than intended to supplement their income, with a further 31% intending to do so or considering it at some point in the future.

When it comes to getting support with their pension, 56% say they speak to unqualified sources such as their partner, family, friends or colleagues, or no one at all. Very few speak to their pension provider (15%), employer (13%), a regulated financial adviser (8%) or specialist bodies such as Pension Wise (4%) or MoneyHelper (3%).

Whilst more than one in three people (37%) don’t feel supported by their workplace to understand their finances, separate research from the Reward and Employee Benefits Association suggests that more employers are now starting to offer this support. “It’s alarming that these latest figures suggest that so many people are thinking about stopping or reducing their pension contributions to help alleviate current financial pressures,” says Jonathan Watts-Lay, director at Wealth at work. “While this is understandable, it really should be a last resort and only if you are facing serious financial difficulties.”

“Those who do go ahead with it should make sure they plan for how long it is going to be for, and restart as soon as they possibly can. While it may result in relatively small savings each month, the impact on retirement savings to be used in later life will be dramatic due to lost employer contributions and tax relief.” Given the widespread concern over having enough money to retire, it’s more important than ever, particularly for those approaching retirement, to have a financial plan for their future in place. That means looking at the pensions, savings and investments they already have and deciding if these will be enough to retire on comfortably. A good starting point as a source of guidance is official government bodies such as Pension Wise and Money Helper.

Those with more complex situations should consider taking regulated financial advice. The good news is that many employers are now offering financial wellbeing support in the workplace, including financial education, guidance and regulated financial advice for employees, so it’s always worth finding out what’s on offer.

To read the full article in the ‘Future on Pensions’ report by Raconteur, distributed in The Times, please click here.

The latest news is brought to you by WEALTH at work, a leading financial wellbeing and retirement specialist. WEALTH at work and my wealth are trading names of Wealth at Work Limited which is a member of the Wealth at Work group of companies.

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