31 May 2023

Study uncovers lack of knowledge of state pensions

31 May 2023

Workers in the UK have a poor understanding of how the state pension works with many struggling on even basic aspects, according to new research.

The study by the Policy Institute at King’s College London and think tank Phoenix Insights found many people questioned overestimated their knowledge.

The most common misconception was that National Insurance contributions are stored in a personal pot which is accessible at state pension age.

Other main areas which showed gaps in people’s knowledge are the number of years of National Insurance payments needed to qualify for a full pension, eligibility criteria, the value of payments, how the state pension differs from workplace savings and the “triple lock” – the system which links the pension to inflation.

A lack of understanding... is hindering people’s ability to prepare effectively for later life

Participants at workshops run as part of the study were largely surprised at how low the state pension was.

Suzanne Hall, director of engagement at the Policy Institute at King’s College London, said: “Financial security is the foundation for a good retirement.

“Yet a lack of understanding and a number of misperceptions concerning basic elements of how the state pension works, and who qualifies, is hindering people’s ability to prepare effectively for later life.”

She continued: “On learning about the state pension participants questioned how fair this system is – particularly for those unable to work due to their own ill health or because of caring responsibilities.

“Against this backdrop participants were keen on reforms – both to the state pension itself but also the broader welfare system so as to ensure more people can have the quality if life in retirement they deserve.”

While those questioned were in favour of providing support to those in need and nearing retirement age, many questioned whether it would be more appropriate to reform benefits for people of working age.

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