58% Have Some Form Of Pension

People in the North East, Scotland and the North West are the most financially prepared for the future, while the East Midlands, East of England and South West are falling behind, according to an analysis of savings behaviour.

Almost three in five (58%) hold some form of pension, with 23% of those investing the maximum they can afford into it, the study for Friends Life found.

The company has created a UK Retirement Savings Map based on the behaviour of 18,000 people.

Income from the state pension, savings, investments, property and private and workplace pensions were considered some of the most popular methods for people to fund their retirement.

Despite this the average total of retirement savings is not sufficient once living and housing costs have been factored in, with people facing an expected financial shortfall of £96.69 per week.

Most savers expect to need £409 per week in retirement when income from their retirement savings will be on average £312.

The research reveals the disparity across different regions. It found the West Midlands, Scotland and South East have the highest proportion of savers investing the maximum possible into retirement funds.

The East Midlands, East of England and the South West are areas of savings deficit, where more than 50% of people are not saving into a pension at all.

In the South West and North East, residents have the smallest shortfall between likely income and expected housing and living costs in retirement.

The East of England and Greater London are the least prepared and can expect the greatest financial shortfall in retirement. Those in the East of England face an average income shortfall of £105.38 per week, and Greater London has a shortfall of £123.87.

Andy Briggs, group chief executive at Friends Life, said: "It is encouraging to see areas of the UK where savers are actively managing their finances for their future.

"Acting today means these people are best positioned to secure the future they want in retirement.

"However, our Retirement Savings Map shows that there are worrying areas of financial deficit where a combination of a lack of awareness, lack of planning and soaring living costs mean a future situation of income shortfall.''

Among tips the company has for pension savers are:

1. Think about savings as a whole. Individuals should investigate all the options available to determine which solutions suit them best.

2. Consider carefully how much is affordable. People need to think now about what they spend most of their money on, and what they are likely to be spending their money on as they reach retirement age.

3. Make sure you're in. Under auto-enrolment, all employers in the UK need to provide a pension scheme to their eligible employees and automatically enrol them into it. Auto-enrolment has started for lots of employers, with the rest required to follow suit by 2018.

4. Consider consolidating savings. Few of us stay in the same job for our entire career which means many people have different pension pots. By consolidating your pension into one pot it can become much easier to manage and track the pension pot's investment performance. You can potentially receive lower charges on just one pot. Consolidation will not be appropriate for everyone so it may help to speak with a financial adviser. Charges may apply.

5. Get the full picture. The Government is introducing a flat-rate state pension in April 2016, and getting rid of complicated second pension and pension credit add-ons. This will make it much easier to put state and private benefits together to get a combined potential income at retirement.

6. Invest in something that's right. Most pension schemes offer access to a wide range of investment options. The range, different levels of risk, charges and other factors can make choosing an option difficult. It may help to speak to an independent financial adviser (charges may apply), or make use of tools offered by providers that can guide people towards investments that may be suitable for their circumstances.

:: The survey was carried out by YouGov. The total sample size was 18,901 UK adults. Fieldwork was undertaken quarterly between 2012 and 2014. The survey was carried out online.

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "Automatic enrolment into workplace pensions is reversing the trend of low pension saving and helping millions of people towards a more comfortable retirement.

"And the new state pension coming in from April 2016 will give people a clearer idea of how much they will receive and help them plan for the future.''

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