Understanding the pension savings gap

1 in 3 children born today have a good chance to live to 100.

We’re fortunate to be living longer than previous generations. We get more time to spend doing the things we care about, with the people we care about. What could be better?

But there’s a problem: the employment, learning and savings structures in place haven’t been built around the reality of our longer lives. This can leave people with less than they need to achieve the retirement they want, when they want it.

It’s this potential shortfall that we call the pension savings gap.


Measuring the gap

Many people working today face a huge challenge when it comes to planning and saving for their financial security in retirement.

Using our Phoenix Insights Longer Lives Index data – a survey of 16,500 people aged 25 and over who aren't yet retired - we explored the adequacy and achievability of people’s retirement income.

A gap that's unevenly spread

Life R2 8575 HR Rendition Web

Women’s pension incomes are on average 40% less than men’s

The gender pay gap and impact of women’s life events - such as motherhood or caring for elderly relatives - don’t only affect their finances today. This is because lower earnings result in lower pension contributions over time.

Gettyimages 1183551230 Rendition Web

Pension participation among ethnic minorities is lower than average

We want to work with industry leaders to shape how best to engage with ethnic minority groups. Together, we can help identify and address the causes of the retirement funding gap in many communities.

Knowledge is key


Creating solutions

To make the most of the opportunities living longer gives us, we need solutions that help people to prepare and save for when they retire. We’re taking action as an employer, as the UK’s largest long-term savings and retirement provider, and as a powerful industry voice.


For colleagues

We want to provide a diverse and inclusive workplace, where everyone can achieve their full potential. We monitor colleagues’ pension contributions and report on the Gender Pension Gap. We’ve also implemented a wide range of flexible, family-friendly and age-inclusive policies, investing in supporting colleagues’ financial futures.


For customers

We’re developing dedicated financial inclusion strategies for underserved groups, and we’ve given more than one million customers access to digital literacy materials.


For wider society

We created Phoenix Insights - a longevity think tank dedicated to transforming the way society responds to longer lives. We’re using research to lead debate and inspire action. We’re also starting important conversations with nationwide campaigns like Living Longer.

Advocating for better longer lives

Family Sitting On A Couch

There are several policy measures we believe would help support businesses and individuals including:

  • Widening auto-enrolment coverage by lowering the age and earnings eligibility thresholds.
  • Reviewing the advice and guidance boundary to give more people access to reliable financial support.
  • Legally requiring employers to share details on how contractual changes may impact pension contributions.
  • Revisiting the Carer’s Leave Bill to ensure that unpaid carers can access up to ten days’ statutory paid leave.
Person At Work

Employers are also in a unique and powerful position to tackle these issues.

We have already implemented a range of policies and recommend that employers, where possible, follow our example by:

  • Re-enrolling workers into pension schemes annually, rather than the statutory three years.
  • Ensuring employer pension contributions continue during periods of parental leave.
  • Adopting a minimum of five days’ unpaid leave for those with caring responsibilities, and where possible, five days’ paid carers leave.
  • Ensuring workplace health policies offer explicit and visible support for reproductive conditions such as miscarriage, fertility treatment, for those diagnosed with endometriosis and managing menopause symptoms.
  • Making flexible working the norm from day one, highlighting this across all job roles.