As the cost of living rockets, savings are no substitute for pensions.

I can understand why Alistair said “thankfully” in parenthesis, but he should be clearer in his grammar. We should be thankful for the end of lockdown, not the end of saving!

Now is a time to be considerate of the majority of us who have insufficient savings. For many,  each piece of recent economic news has comes as a dull thud to the financial solar-plexus.

This morning I woke to the news that a litre of petrol now costs a record 148p. Some people’s fuel bills are more than doubling. This is just the start of a week that will see the publication of the latest inflation numbers – they will make for grim reading. This is no time to be thankful for a falling off in savings!

The lockdown savings boom has been remarkable.

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But the Bank of England reports that cash deposits in December 2021 fell below pre-pandemic levels . The boom is coming to an end.

Not only will the rising cost of living will put pressure on all households. April’s rise in energy prices and national insurance alone will add more than £100 to average monthly household bills .

For some, the £180bn lockdown savings boom will provide a financial cushion. But I  agree with Alistair’s call to put our money to better use. The Bank of England report that the average instant access account is paying just 0.09%. And about 15% of all cash savings (c£250bn) are in accounts paying zero interest.

For those who have not returned to work, and we suspect that there are more than one million in the UK that haven’t, there is the prospect of living on these savings and on money drawn down from retirement savings.

People will need every bit of their savings and more, older people will need pensions more than ever.

For those who have reached the receding state retirement age there is the prospect of a 3.1% (£5.50 pw) increase in the state pension. But to have kept pace with the real increase in pensioner’s living costs and average earnings, experts think this should have been 8% (£16.70pw). The busting of the pensions triple lock this April could not be coming at a worse time.

So we are in that grimmest of scenarios, where the fruits of saving are meagre, the means to save are diminishing and the call on savings are plentiful. And now is not the time to look to our investments for relief. Though that is what this chart suggests more and more of us do.

Security worries from the East combine with concern that the factors underpinning equity market’s long bull run may be a little wobbly, have seen our retirement savings and Equity ISA accounts fall back in the past few months.

Now is a time of financial worry for many people and these people need all the help they can get.

If you are in the 630,000 of the million who have not returned to work, nor registered for benefits, now may be the time to do so. This is a question placed on this blog this week

I’ve worked from age 16 to my current age of nearly 55, although I was contracted out for approx 10 years in the British Steel Pension Scheme (The full ‘contracted out’ period for employee members of the British Steel Pension Scheme was between 06/04/1978 and 05/04/1997).

I’m about to pull the trigger and finish work. Does this mean that when I do, it’s in my interests to register as unemployed?

The answer to that question is almost certainly “yes”.

You are not just missing out on vital cash flow, but you may be missing on credits towards your state pension. I urge this reader to visit his or her local Citizen’s advice and check his entitlements. I urge him to check his state benefits too and make use of the Money Helper pension service (formerly TPAS)


Missing out on your full state pension presents you with a problem for the rest of your life. Many people who have incomplete national insurance records and cannot make up time by working , can do so by paying class 3 national insurance contributions, a very good use of savings – if you have them.

You will not be alone if you do. Few people currently pay Class 3 NICs but they are growing in number fast as people cotton on to the need and benefit of paying them.

Class 3 NICs cost £15 pw for each additional qualifying year paying out an extra £5.13 a week (or £266.83 a year) in State Pension, based on 2021/22 rates. This is a good deal.

And this is a most important opportunity for some of  those in the years leading up to state pension age. For – as this chart shows – the state pension is the key building block for most of us in retirement

Look at these numbers and marvel at the tiny part our investments and personal pensions (the blue and pink slices) play in income in retirement.

If we are in receipt or likely to be in receipt of an occupational pension, let us be thankful for it and value it.

And let us nurture our health and our capacity to continue – where we can – to find paid work. For many of us will be finding over the next two years, that our savings are no substitute for a proper pension.


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 As the cost of living rockets, savings are no substitute for pensions.

  1. John Mather says:

    Surprise, why?
    It has been clear to all that since 2008 western economies have been surfing bubbles. Any sane analysis of the decline of the Empire would have predicted the trajectory of the U.K. economy.

    The lack of productivity, education and innovation together with extraordinary debt levels are still there made worse by the impact of the pandemic and dysfunctional “leadership”.

    Now you can look forward to social unrest as the fiscal drag effect bites harder into living standards.

    The FTSE has tracked sideways for 22 years. You need to think about stress testing savings, what happens with a 30% market correction to your resulting capital burn ?

    The writing is on the wall

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