More than £50bn in pensions at risk of being lost - how to track your pension

More than £50 billion in pension savings are at risk of being lost as Britain edges towards a “national crisis”.

Britons are being urged to keep a list of their savings pots and providers as the problem mushrooms due to auto-enrolment and the trend of moving jobs more frequently.

There are currently 4.8 million forgotten or lost pension pots in the UK according to research from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), on behalf of PensionBee, out today.

They say nearly one in 10 UK adults believe they have lost a pension pot worth more than £10,000.

NimbleFins previously reported the number of lost pensions skyrocketed 75% between 2018 and 2022.

Then the Pensions Policy Institute said there was £26.6bn sat languishing in lost pots, with their value rising £7bn in just four years.

And the number of pension policies in the UK is expected to rise by 130% by 2050, PensionBee says, meaning the number of lost pensions could skyrocket even further.

The average 18-year-old today is expected to accumulate five pension pots by the age of 68, but PensionBee said it is known for some people to have up to 30 separate pensions over their lifetime.

Often a saver moves home and forgets to update their pension provider, meaning they are not sent paperwork and the details of the pension slip from memory.

So what can you do to find a lost pension?

The Government's planned pensions dashboard, which allows savers to see all their pots in one place, is seen a vital for workers to keep track of their pensions but has been hit with multiple delays.

There are also proposals for a 'pot for life' pension which allows workers to instruct their employer to pay their pension into an existing pot.

Unless plans were enacted, the number of lost pensions was set to rise to "national crisis levels" over the coming years, Becky O’Connor, director of public affairs at PensionBee said.

She added: “This research suggests the problem of lost pots is growing more urgent every year.

"For anyone who loses track of pensions, the result can, unfortunately, be a poorer retirement.

"It’s important to keep track of old paperwork, employer and pension provider names and policy numbers and if you would prefer to keep pensions together, consider consolidating them in one place.”

Here are six steps to finding a lost pension

  1. List all the places you've worked and a rough estimate of how long you worked there for. Old CVs, payslips, P45s or P60s can help. Leave a spare column to write details of any pension you had there.

  2. Look through old paperwork for any old pensions and statements. Some people may have 'contracted out' in the Eighties or Nineties - they paid lower National Insurance contributions but stopped building up part of the State Pension.

  3. Look at the addresses where the pension statement was posted. Is it your current address? If not contact the provider to update them.

  4. Look for any gaps in pensions contributions (If you've been filling in that spare column we mentioned in point one this should become clear).

For any that are missing, try calling the employer's HR department to see if they have details of who provided the pension, or use the Government's Pension Tracing Service. You can look online or call 0800 731 0193.

Try to have information such as the name of the company and when you worked there. If the employer can't be found, see if it has changed names in the time since you worked there by searching Companies House or the Charities Register (for those who worked for a charity).

If you search the name of the employer you worked for, its current registered address should show up as name changes are traceable.

  1. Contact any pension providers that are outstanding from your employment history list. You'll need to provide some identification details like your National Insurance number.

  2. If any outstanding pension pots are found:

    • Ask for an up-to-date statement.
    • Give them your up-to-date contact details.
    • Decide whether you wish to combine all your pensions into one pot. You can make this request with your current pension provider. But if you want advice on whether that's the best thing for you to do, look for a financial advisor.

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Helen Barnett

Helen is a journalist, editor and copywriter with 15 years' experience writing across print and digital publications. She previously edited the Daily Express website and has won awards as a reporter. Read more here.