Can Brits solely rely on their pension?

Only a fifth of Brits believe their pension is enough to finance their retirement.

What do your retirement plans look like? Do you plan on spending time with your family, travelling far and wide or enjoying what the British countryside has to offer?

Whatever your plans, it’s never too early to start thinking about your pension. With the rising cost of living and salaries staying put, it’s becoming harder and harder to save for your retirement.

Because of this, we commissioned some research to see how comfortable Brits felt about their retirement, and whether they expect to have to top up their pension with other funds.

Quick overview

  • Only one in five people in the UK (22%) think they will be able to live comfortably on their pension.
  • A quarter (25%) don’t know if their pension will be enough to support them through their retirement.
  • 24% of Brits plan to boost their income using funds in savings accounts, premium bonds or cash ISAs, making this the most popular measure to take.
  • Are Brits confident in their pension?

    Only one in five Brits (22%) think they will be able to live off their state and private pensions. On the other hand, half (50%) believe they will need to supplement their pension, while a quarter (25%) don’t know if their pension will be enough to live on.

    Ability to survive off their pension Percentage
    Can rely on their pension 22.40%
    Can't rely on their pension 49.90%
    Don't know 24.70%
    Other / Not applicable 3.00%

    The most common action Brits are planning on taking to boost their pension is to use money from savings accounts, premium bonds or cash ISAs. 24% of Brits plan to do this. In second place is obtaining some form of employment, with 21% of Brits intending to do this. Following this, 1 in 10 (12%) plan on moving house when they retire to release some money to live off for their retirement.

    Additional incomes Percent
    Plan to also work part-time 20.85%
    Plan to also rely on savings 23.90%
    Plan to also rely on share market investments 10.20%
    Plan to also downsize their home 12.45%
    Plan to also rely on a second investment property 7.60%
    Plan to also rely on an equity release (loan) on their property 5.40%
    Plan to also have their children or family to support them financially 5.50%

    Gender differences

    Men appear to be more confident in being able to live off their pension than women, with 28% saying they will be able to do so comfortably. This is 11 percentage points more than women (17%).

    Over half of women (52%) feel they can’t rely on their pension, compared to just under half of men (48%). More women than men don’t know if their pension will be enough to live off (28% vs 21%).

    Gender Can rely on pension Can't rely on pension Don't know Other / Not applicable
    Men 27.96% 47.61% 21.10% 3.33%
    Women 17.24% 52.03% 28.03% 2.70%

    Regional differences

    Almost two-thirds of Londoners (62%) assume that their pension will need to be supplemented with extra income, making this the region where the highest number of residents expect to do so. On the other hand, only two in five (42%) in the North West intend to do this.

    Region Percentage that can't rely on their pension
    South West 45.50%
    South East 55.28%
    East of England 51.39%
    West Midlands 46.07%
    East Midlands 46.89%
    Yorshire and the Humber 45.67%
    North West 42.15%
    North East 50.62%
    Wales 47.12%
    Scotland 49.39%
    London 62.39%
    Northern Ireland 46.66%

    Generational differences

    The silent generation is having a far more comfortable retirement than the other generations expect to have, with only 28% of those born between 1925 and 1945 subsidising their pension. On the other end of the spectrum, millennials are not so certain that their retirement will be as easy, with 58% of this generation expecting to have to enhance their pension in some way.

    Ability to survive off their pension Generation Z Millennials Generation X Boomers Silent generation
    Can rely on pension 8.87% 13.13% 14.60% 36.93% 41.67%
    Can't rely on pension 42.74% 57.51% 55.83% 42.09% 28.33%
    Don't know 44.35% 27.29% 27.73% 16.81% 23.33%
    Other / Not applicable 4.04% 2.07% 1.84% 4.17% 6.67%

    Having enough in your pension has long been a concern for many Brits, with the cost of living outpacing salary growth over the past 10 years. Even still, it’s a shock to see just a fifth of the population saying that they will be able to live solely off their pension.

    The purpose of retirement is to eventually stop working, so it’s also a worry to see one in five adults believing that they will need to continue some form of employment to pay the bills. We can expect to see this trend grow over time, along with needing money from children or relatives, which highlights how important it is to start saving early.

    On top of this, Brits now have to contend with coronavirus, which has caused a sizable decline in most people’s investments. However, for generations who are still saving for their pension, it is actually a great time to kick start it while the market is down. ”

    Jon Ostler, CEO at


      If retirement is still many years away for you, here are some tips to get your pension looking healthy:
    • Unless you absolutely have to, don’t opt out of your automatic workplace pension. Your employer is obliged to contribute a minimum of 3% of your income, while you put in 5%, so by opting out, you would be forgoing this “free” money. We looked into this, and someone earning the average UK salary (£29,669) who stays in the automatic pension scheme will see their pension worth £92,057 after a 30-year saving period. This is almost £64,000 more than if they just kept the cash.
    • You can also provide a huge boost to your pension by starting to save as early as possible. Compound interest means the amount earned on interest becomes more and more substantial as time goes by, so putting a lump sum in your pension just a few years earlier can make a huge difference.
    • If you find yourself with some spare cash or you get a pay rise, place the extra money into savings. Once you’ve built up some savings, place that money into your pension pot. Now is an especially good time to do so as the market has lost a lot of value because of coronavirus. If you’re wondering how much you should be putting into your pension, why not take the age that you start your pension and halve it. This is a sensible percentage of your pre-taxed salary you should put into your pension each year until you retire.


    • Finder commissioned Onepoll on 4-6 March 2020 to carry out a nationally representative survey of adults aged 18+.
    • A total of 2,000 people were questioned throughout Great Britain, with representative quotas for gender, age and region.

    For all media enquiries, please contact:

    Matt Mckenna
    UK communications manager
    T: +44 20 8191 8806

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