As financial pressures on UK employees continue to grow, new research shows just over 8 in 10 (83%) employees are concerned that the cost of living crisis will mean they will have to work longer before retiring to make up for a shortfall in savings.
The figures from WEALTH at work also reveal one in three (33%) people think they won’t ever be able to afford to retire at all due to increasing costs. This is despite the success of auto enrolment, which launched over a decade ago.
Whilst more than one in ten (13%) have either stopped or reduced the amount they pay into their pension due to rising costs, worryingly, almost three in ten (29%), admit they may consider stopping payments in the future, and a third (30%) may consider 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Further to this, of those eligible to access their pension, one in 10 (10%) have withdrawn savings earlier than previously intended to supplement their income. But, shockingly, 31% either intend to, or may consider it 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 (40%), or no one at all (16%). Very few speak to their pension provider (15%), employer (13%), a regulated financial adviser (8%) or specialist bodies such as Pension Wise (4%) or Money Helper (3%).
More than one in three (37%) don’t feel supported in their workplace when it comes to getting help to understand their finances, but separate research from Reward and Employee Benefits Association suggests that more employers are now starting to offer this support.
Jonathan Watts-Lay, WEALTH at work, comments; “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. Whilst 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.
“Whilst it may make 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.”
He continues; “As the research shows, many are concerned if they really can afford to retire at all, with many believing that they will have to work longer to make up for a shortfall in savings. For those approaching retirement, it couldn’t be more important to make sure they have a plan in place. This means carefully looking at what pensions, savings and investments they have, and deciding if this is going to be enough. Once you know what your situation really is, you can decide what you are going to do about it.”
He concludes; “As highlighted in the research, it is very common for people to turn to their friends and family for guidance on their pensions, but they may not be the most qualified or indeed knowledgeable source.
“The good news is that many employers are now offering financial education in the workplace, as well as other support for employees. Make sure you speak to them to find out what your situation really is, and if help is available before making any changes to your contributions or accessing your pension savings.
“For those approaching retirement, official Government bodies such as Pension Wise can be a good starting point. Those with more complex situations should consider taking out regulated financial advice as it can be worth its weight in gold.”