The average person will have around 11 different jobs during their lifetime and move home eight times.
So, it’s hardly surprising that pension details are lost or forgotten. But what is shocking, is the scale – nearly £20 billion in unclaimed pensions, and that figure is rising.
The Government predicts that there could be as many as 50 million dormant and lost pensions by 2050.
Misplaced pensions – the facts
Nearly two thirds of UK savers have more than one pension and changing work patterns means that the number of people with multiple pensions will increase.
People typically lose track of their pensions when changing jobs or moving home but, until recently, the enormity of the problem was unknown.
The scale of the UK’s lost pensions mountain was uncovered by research undertaken by the Pensions Policy Institute .
It surveyed firms representing about 50% of the private defined contribution pensions market and found:
- A staggering 800,000 lost pensions worth an estimated £9.7 billion
- Scaled up to the whole market, that would indicate 1.6 million forgotten pots worth £19.4 billion
- That’s the equivalent of £13,000 a pot just waiting to be claimed
This is not even the full picture. These figures are likely to be even higher as the research did not investigate lost pensions held in the public sector, or with trust-based schemes typically run by employers.
Gone for good?
Providers make considerable efforts and spend millions every year trying to reunite people with lost or forgotten pensions.
In 2017, more than 375,000 attempts were made to contact clients, leading to £1 billion in assets being reunited with them.
However, firms are unable to keep pace with a mobile workforce that moves jobs and homes more often than ever before. The onus therefore is on you to keep track of your pensions.
Finding a lost pension
Prevention is better than cure, so ensure you keep all your pensions paperwork in one place and always inform pension scheme administrators about any change in address.
However, if you’ve lost track of one or more pensions over the years, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure you claim all the money you are entitled to in retirement.
Write down the dates and contact details of the companies you had pensions with. If you have all the information, then you can contact the pension provider directly to find how much there is in your pension pot.
Tracing a personal pension
If you know which pension provider your pension was with, then your first step should be to contact them.
You’ll need to provide as many details as possible, including the date your pension was set up as well as your:
- Plan number
- Date of birth
- National Insurance number
Tracing a Workplace Pension
If you want to find a scheme run by an employer, then your first point of contact should be the organisation.
If your employer provided access to a personal or stakeholder scheme, then you should contact the pension provider, if you have the details. If you don’t have these, your former employer should be able to provide them.
The key information you’ll need to provide to the employer includes:
- Your National Insurance number
- The dates you started and stopped work for them
- The dates you joined and left the pension scheme
Pension Tracing Service
If you’re still struggling to make progress – perhaps because you can’t find the contact details of an old employer, or you don’t know the provider of an old personal pension – you can contact the Pension Tracing Service.
This is a free service which can search a database of more than 200,000 workplace and personal pension schemes to find the contact details you need.
You can call the Pension Tracing Service free of charge on 0800 731 0193 – Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm or find out more details here.
Before using the service, collect as much information as you can including:
- The name of your previous employer or pension provider – you’ll need this to get the search underway
- Any previous names it was known by
- The type of business it ran
- Whether it changed address at any point
- When you belonged to the scheme
Gone but not forgotten
To plan for your retirement you need to understand how much income you will receive from all your pensions including workplace, personal and State Pension.
Unclaimed pensions can make a real difference to millions of savers so, the sooner you trace a lost or misplaced one, the better.
If you would like any independent financial advice or to discuss any concerns you may have about your pensions and being prepared for retirement, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
 The Lost Pensions Survey, Pensions Police Institute