Young People and Pensions

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This is a blog by Vivi Friedgut of @blackbullion; she is also responsible for the picture and its contents!


Pensions don’t make for the most thrilling conversations. Like verrucas, funerals or the dream you had last night, talking about pensions can be a bit of a conversation killer, and most people find them a drag to think about.

When you’re in the ‘prime’ of your life, thinking about getting older and saving your money for when you do probably isn’t top of your priority list.

Plus it is hard to make pensions sexy – and it’s hard to get young people to engage.

While the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation found that although 76% of young people agreed that pensions are important, just 30% are contributing to one. Worryingly, of those who do contribute, 42% have no idea what type of pension they are paying into.

But the pension represents a significant pot of money, a significant investment in your future so it is worth a little bit of your time.

So to the basics;

Pensions have been going through a bit of a shake-up. The government believed the previous system was getting too complicated and opaque. They decided pensions should be easier to understand and more transparent. Here are the key facts:

1. Until recently it wasn’t a requirement to pay into a pension scheme. However due to a chronic lack of retirement savings (less than 1 in 3 UK adults are contributing to a pension) the government brought in something called auto-enrolment.

2. Auto-enrolment means that every employee must contribute a minimum of 4% of their salary.

3. Auto-enrolment means that all employers are forced to offer their employees a pension scheme. Larger firms have started doing this, and all employers will be legally obliged to follow by 2018.

Remember those terrible “we’re all in” adverts? Basically you save a bit into your pension, your company saves a bit into your pension and the government contributes a bit too.

4. New rules announced in the 2014 Budget mean that once you reach 55, you can start accessing your pension pot, taking as much or as little as you like, whenever you like.

5. The Basic State Pension is unlikely to give you enough income to see you comfortably through retirement. In the current tax year, the most you’d get per week is just £113.10 (or £180.90 if you’re married).

(For more info check out this government fact sheet about changes to the pension scheme)

Young people today are transitioning into their adult lives in the aftermath of a crippling recession. High youth unemployment, lower wages, massive debt and soaring rent and mortgage prices mean that -more than any generation in the past – they need their pension savings to go further or they be doomed to face an old age of further hardship.

An investment in your future is the best investment you will ever make so, if it’s not something you’ve thought about yet, or you’ve been trying to ignore as an irrelevant nuisance, now’s the time to get educated. A five minute brush-up on the main points to consider and perhaps a quick conversation with your parents about their plans for retiring – isn’t such a bad idea and will pay dividends in the future.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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1 Response to Young People and Pensions

  1. Vivi @ Blackbullion says:

    Hey Henry,
    This is Kaz, the Blackbullion mascot at Sheffield Hallam University. He loves nothing more than a good cuddle and selfie (except maybe to help students get money smarter!)
    Perhaps he should visit a future PPP lunch..

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