Parental leave, self-employment and severe ill-health are the UK’s pensions blind spots

More than half of UK adults didn’t know they can contribute to their pension while on parental leave, or that they can access their pension early due to severe ill health, according to new research from the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS).The findings reveal the key blind spots when it comes to pensions knowledge. More than half don’t know that:

  • You can access your pension early if you have to retire due to severe ill health (57%)
  • Self-employed people can benefit from tax relief on pension savings (63%)
  • You can contribute to your pension while on parental leave (56%)

Women were less likely to know they can keep topping up their pension while on parental leave (61%) than men (51%).

The picture is more positive when it comes to knowledge of automatic enrolment and pensions:

  • Almost eight in ten (78%) know that they can start saving into a pension as soon as they have started working, whatever their age
  • Almost two thirds (65%) know that automatic enrolment doesn’t guarantee that you’re saving enough for retirement

The research also demonstrates a lack of awareness about the growth of pension savings and what happens to your pension when your employer goes bust.

Caroline Siarkiewicz, Acting Chief Executive at the Money and Pensions Service said: “It’s clear that many people are unaware of their options when it comes to important events in their lives that can impact their pensions such as becoming a parent or starting their own business. Women in particular have many important financial decisions to make when transitioning into parenthood but our findings suggest they are less likely to be aware of their pension options.

“It is positive to see that people have an understanding of how automatic enrolment works. However, our findings suggest that many might be missing out on important information when making decisions affecting their pensions. You can speak to a pensions specialist for free, confidential help by contacting The Pensions Advisory Service helpline or webchat.”