Untouched DC pension wealth 'doubles' in UK, raising concerns

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Untouched DC pension wealth 'doubles' in UK, raising concerns

Defined contribution (DC) pension wealth in the UK has more than doubled since the start of auto-enrolment in 2012, raising concerns about lost pensions.

According to figures from Britain's Office for National Statistics (ONS), preserved DC pension wealth - where no withdrawals or contributions are being made - rose from £139bn in the two year period between 2012 and 2014 to £291bn between in 2016 and 2018.

The analysis from EQ demonstrates how people could be in danger of losing track of their pension pots when moving between jobs or by not updating their contact details when they move to a new house.

The sheer scale of preserved DC pension wealth is astonishing - it is around £65bn more than the value of DC pots that people are currently paying in to."

While auto-enrolment encourages better pension saving it can also mean that workers retire with numerous pots from different employers that are difficult to track.

Recent industry estimates from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) suggest there could be about £20bn of lost pensions, at least six times higher than previously estimated.

Duncan Watson, chief executive of EQ's pension business, believes the figures should encourage all people to check whether they are sitting on savings that they are unaware of.

"The sheer scale of preserved DC pension wealth is astonishing - it is around £65bn more than the value of DC pots that people are currently paying in to," he said.

"Of course, not all of this £291bn figure is forgotten pensions. It is common for people to save into a pension and then not touch it for years or even decades given they are long-term investments. Many of those with more than one pot will also be well aware of where their money is kept and how to access it when the time comes."

He said that as people get older they can potentially accumulate two or three pension pots and lose track of their savings.

"It can be difficult knowing who to talk to so that these savings can be relocated especially if the amount of money is unlikely to make a tangible difference to their quality of life.

"But everybody should check to see if they have more hard-earned savings. Even a small pot could provide helpful extra income in retirement or as a lump sum allow a one-off payment for an expense such as a holiday."

While the pensions dashboard were expected to be introduced last year to help people keep track of their savings, the complexity of setting up the system means it has been delayed until 2023.

"The pensions dashboard should further help people keep track of their savings. In the meantime, the Pension Tracing Service - the government's free tracing service - is a great way for people to begin finding out whether they may have lost assets and to kickstart their search," he added.

This article was first published by our sister title Professional Adviser