The current generation of retirees are, according to the IFS, “doing better than any before it” – and to back up this bold claim, it pointed to figures showing how pensioner poverty rates are lower than the population average.
Furthermore, the average income of pensioners has been similar to that for those under state pension age since 2009.
That’s undeniably a big success for the country, but the big question that must be asked is whether this can be sustained?
Well, the IFS isn’t optimistic, warning that this success could be making policymakers complacent and “blinding us to the risk that future generations will not fare as well”.
To demonstrate this point, it noted that nearly two-thirds of middle-earning private sector employees who are currently contributing to a pension are saving less than eight per cent of what they earn. To put this in context, Lord Turner’s Pension Commission recommended that people should be saving about 15 per cent of their earnings.
Nearly all of this, the IFS said, is coming in the form of defined contribution pensions. As a result, the body is worried that these people could be “exposed to risks that may be difficult to manage well”.
“Those retiring with defined contribution pension pots face considerable difficulty and risk in managing their finances through retirement,” the IFS stated.
“There are risks of running out of private resources or of being so cautious that people have a needlessly austere retirement.”
Although the IFS acknowledged that pension freedoms do give people the opportunity to take control of their own finances, it warns that decisions on how to draw their pension wealth are “difficult”, even for “the most numerate”.
This is just one of many issues that the IFS is worried about.
For example, it said less than one in five self-employed people are saving for retirement, and those who have been self-employed for a long time are especially likely to not be putting money in a pension.
Furthermore, the IFS said more and more of those approaching retirement are living in expensive, insecure rental accommodation, and that this figure could keep going up. This, it warned, would lead to a “combination of a disappointingly low standard of living in retirement and/or greater reliance on housing benefit”, unless “a wave of inheritances leads to rising homeownership”.
Paul Johnson, Director of the IFS, commented: “The last decade or so has seen state and private pensions deliver much better outcomes for many pensioners. But there is a risk this has bred complacency among policymakers.”
The IFS is carrying out a major pensions review to assess future risks and work out what steps need to be taken to ensure working age people can enjoy a good retirement.
But, as ever, this will take time, and we can’t be certain that the government will implement every recommendation that’s made.
For now, the very best way to secure decent retirement outcomes is to get professional, regulated financial advice, so a specialist can assess your finances and recommend how you can plan for the future.
You can be sure that a financial adviser will always offer you bespoke, tailored advice and act in your best interests, so you can feel confident you’re making the right decisions every step of the way.
Get in touch and take charge of your retirement planning now.