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Populus research uncovers the extent of the pensions ticking time-bomb

The topic of pensions is never far from media attention. Recent reports have surfaced of the pension deficit of UK’s leading companies being equivalent to 70% of their profits and of today’s retirees facing the prospect of surviving on half the income they’d have expected a decade ago.

Populus research commissioned by Wealth Wizards published last month highlights the paralysing lack of pensions awareness among the general public.

It shows that across all those to whom it was applicable, only four in 10 know what pension freedoms are. Over a fifth (22%) are unaware that there had been any change to pension legislation at all in the last 12 months. This is concerning, as the government’s implementation of auto-enrolment began back in October 2012.

The findings reveal that almost half (48%) have no idea how the changes will affect them. A further 46% are aware that the state pension age has increased, but have no idea what age it has increased to. And almost three quarters (70%) saying they think its employers’ responsibility to ensure employees are informed of changes and how individuals are affected.

The nationwide head-in-the-sand approach to pensions is seemingly now entering a vicious cycle, with disengaged workers continuing to miss pensions updates. A quarter say that they do not take any notice of changes made to pensions legislation because they believe they will probably never retire anyway, while 37% say they do not take any notice because it is too far off to worry about.

Wealth Wizards director Phil Blows, said:

“The knowledge gap highlighted by this research relating to recent changes is concerning. More concerning still is the fact that such a high percentage of the UK are still unaware of pension freedoms, a change that came into play two years ago. This is not to say that this lack of knowledge surrounding pensions in general is not understandable. It is after all a complex issue with many moving parts.

“It does however highlight the need for employers to educate their workforce sooner rather than later to ensure that they are prepared for retirement.”

It’s an issue that doesn’t stray far from media attention. The topic of pensions was one of the most noticed business news stories in August. Populus’s Head of Syndicated Stakeholder Research David Racadio writes here about the long-running pensions crisis at Tata Steel, as featured in PR Week.

The evidence shows there is still much work to be done to educate people about their pensions and make it easier to save for retirement.

Populus’s Business and Consumer Insight team unlocks the Critical Knowledge brands need to understand the world around us. Find out more about Populus’s market research by emailing cmenzies@populus.co.uk or calling 0207 5534149

View the full Data Tables here.


The research was conducted by Populus for Wealth Wizards between 12 and 14 May 2017. Surveys were conducted across the country with a nationally representative sample of 2,069 UK adults (18+) and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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