How have workers 'lost' their pension pots?
With the average UK employee holding 11 jobs in their lifetime, pension funds can get lost in the process of moving from role to role.
With the government now requiring businesses to offer workers a pension through an auto-enrolment scheme, it is wise to keep track of your pension plan if you change jobs. However, you may have already lost track of your pension, either through changing employment, lost records or moving address.
What pension are you entitled to?
If you think you may have a pension that’s become stranded, you may wish to check what pensions you have been eligible for throughout your working career. There are some rules that may have affected your employee pension eligibility, depending on the date when you left the company. If you left the employer:
- Before April 1975, you will likely have been refunded your pension contributions, and are unlikely to be owed anything if you were part of the scheme for less than 15 years
- Between April 1975 and April 1988, you will have a pension if you were over the age of 26 and had five years in the scheme. Otherwise, you would likely have been refunded your pension contributions.
- After 1988, you will have a pension if you completed at least two years with the business. Otherwise, you would have likely been refunded your pension contributions.
Find out more about the pension rules and regulations at the Pensions Advisory Service
6 tips for finding any ‘lost’ pension savings:
1. Check your paper records
Take a look at your physical records first to see if you have any records of pension savings you may have. You should receive annual statements from all your pension providers, which will help you to keep track of any pension savings you may have accrued.
2. Contact the pension provider
If you have not received an annual statement or have lost contact with the pension provider, it is worth giving them a call. You can ask about any pensions you may have with the provider, and track down any savings you may have. You may require the details of your previous employer.
3. Contact your former employer
If you are unable to remember the pension provider for a particular company, it is best to contact your previous employers to see if they have records of your pension contributions.
Find out what details you will need for tracking down your pension
4. Use the free government tracing service
The government has created a free service for tracing any ‘lost’ pensions you may have. The service has over 200,000 workplace and personal pension scheme details on file. You can contact the service by telephone or post if you can’t access the website.
5. Check the Pension Protection Fund
The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) gives compensation to workers who are part of an eligible pension scheme for businesses with insufficient pension assets. If the business you worked for has suffered insolvency, the pension they offered you may be listed with the Pension Protection Fund. You can check their website for further details.
6. Check the Unclaimed Assets Register
You can set up an online account or call to check Experian’s Unclaimed Assets Register for any ‘lost’ pension savings. The register lists financial assets, and can give you the contact details of your pension provider. It will cost £25 for each search you make.
How to consolidate pensions and keep track of them in future
If you would prefer to keep all your pensions under one provider, you can choose to consolidate your savings. Keeping your pension savings in one pot may help you to keep better track of your retirement funds.
Aged schemes, such as those from 2000 and before, may require you to pay exit penalties, or preferable benefits. It is worth checking to see if there is a pension pot that will suit your needs better than your current schemes.
The government is working to make viewing your pensions easier, with plans to launch a ‘pensions dashboard’ in 2023. This will allow you to keep track of all your pension pots in one place.
Find out more information about tracing ‘lost’ pensions savings on the government website