Pensions  

More than 200k savers on hunt for missing pensions

More than 200k savers on hunt for missing pensions

More than 200,000 people have contacted the government to ask for help locating their missing pensions just as the dormant assets scheme gears up to expand into retirement savings.

A freedom of information request to the Department for Work and Pensions, submitted by Hargreaves Lansdown, showed that almost 207,000 calls were made to the government’s pension tracing service over the past four years.

People often lose track of their pensions when they change employers or move to a new home and do not tell their provider.

Therefore the provider cannot communicate with them and over time these pensions are forgotten and people miss out on this bit of retirement income.

This problem has been made worse by more people being automatically enrolled into a pension when they start a new job. 

Helen Morrissey, senior pensions and retirement analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Frequent job moves mean people can accumulate several small pensions over the course of their working life. 

“Recent Hargreaves Lansdown research showed that while 22 per cent of those aged 55-64 with a pension said they had three or more pensions, this rose to one-third of 18-24 and 35-44 year-olds.

“However, there is no need to lose track of pensions. File pension paperwork away safely and update your contact details whenever you move to a new house.”

But for those pensions that are lost and never claimed, new rules coming into force may mean these assets are no longer wasted.

The Dormant Assets scheme was established in 2008 to distribute unclaimed assets from banks and building societies to social and environmental initiatives across the UK.

There is now a bill travelling through Parliament looking to expand this scheme to include dormant assets from the insurance and pensions, investment, wealth management, and securities sectors. 

Last year the government said pensions would be excluded from the scheme given the “significant changes” to the pensions landscape in recent years and its commitment to the pensions dashboard, which it wanted to give time to develop.

It has the potential to make around £880m available across the UK.

However, if someone’s money is transferred to the Dormant Assets Fund they are still able to reclaim it.

Morrissey said: “Hundreds of thousands of pensions have gone missing. Ideally every pension could be reunited with its owner, but if it can’t, then it’s a positive for this to be put towards good causes rather than sitting around in forgotten accounts. 

“The key is that if the pension investor comes back for the money, the scheme allows them to access their assets.”

amy.austin@ft.com

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