Lost pensions worth £26bn could go unclaimed as one in five has missing pot - what to do

Lost and unclaimed pensions are now worth £26.2billion in the UK - find out how to find your missing pension here.

Pension savers are missing out on £26.6 billion as millions of pots are lost or forgotten about.

It's thought one in five pension pots are lost, with each containing £9,470 on average.

And the problem is rising, with the amount of lost pensions rising 75% since 2018, according to the Pensions Policy Institute.

A pension is considered lost if it has been left dormant for a long period of time, the owner cannot be contacted or the pension provider doesn't actually know who it belongs to.

There are thought to be more than 2.8 million pensions considered lost, and their value has risen 37% to £26.6bn since 2018. That's an increase of £7bn in just four years.

A big factor in the rising scale of lost pensions is people moving jobs and homes so frequently. While workers may have previously tended to stay with the same employer for a long period of time, these days a worker aged 45 and over will have switched employers six times on average.

Savers also forget to update their pension details when they move house or change their name. Only 5% of people think to update their pension records when they move, compared to 89% telling their GP or dentist, PPI estimates.

There has also been an increase in people changing jobs and moving house since the coronavirus pandemic, exacerbating the problem.

John Upton, policy analyst at the PPI, expects things to "worsen over time" unless savers take action.

The pensions sector has launched the Pension Attention campaign to help savers find their lost funds, and answer questions to clear up confusion.

Tips to find 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
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.