Scottish Widows warn workers face lifetime of ‘catch-up’ with savings

Workers in sectors including retail, travel and hospitality could face a lifetime of “playing catch-up” with their retirement savings, an insurer has warned.

A McDonald's drive-thru at Newbridge. Hospitality workers have a lifetime of playing 'catch-up' on their retirement savings, according to Scottish Widows
A McDonald's drive-thru at Newbridge. Hospitality workers have a lifetime of playing 'catch-up' on their retirement savings, according to Scottish Widows

Scottish Widows said many workers who are now taking a hit to their finances were already finding it difficult to save adequately for retirement before the coronavirus pandemic struck. They could now struggle with ever being able to afford to retire.

Some are in sectors where businesses are feeling severe economic impacts from Covid-19, including the prospect of widespread job losses;

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Scottish Widows’ annual retirement report, looking at more than 5,000 adults across the UK, found that:

n More than a quarter (27 per cent) of people working in travel and the arts have not yet started saving into a pension;

n Two-thirds (67 per cent) of retail workers are worried that if they ever did retire, they would quickly run out of money;

n Nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) of construction workers feel they are not preparing adequately for retirement;

n Less than a fifth (18 per cent) of restaurant workers are optimistic about their retirement.
It is highly likely these workers are now also facing new financial pressures that will make saving for the long term even more difficult, Scottish Widows said.

The insurer said one reason workers have historically been pessimistic about retirement, even before Covid-19, is when employers only contribute the legal minimum amounts into their pension.

Pete Glancy, head of policy at Scottish Widows, said while around three in five people generally are estimated to be saving adequately for their retirement, “long-term prospects are still to a large degree defined by the industry in which people work”.

“That’s because, while auto-enrolment has transformed the retirement prospects of millions, minimum contributions are still far below what is needed to provide a good standard of living,” he said.

“We recognise that the next 12 to 18 months is going to be about businesses getting back on their feet, but many individuals have taken a substantial hit to their finances and the fear is that the gap can’t be closed, meaning they face a lifetime of work as they struggle to afford to retire.”

Scottish Widows also said hard-working “multi-jobbers” risk being left behind.

For example, a quarter (24 per cent) of people in travel and tourism and in the arts have more than one job. This rises to 27 per cent of people who work in education. In total there are around 6.8 million “multi-jobbers” in the UK, Scottish Widows said. Its report warned they could miss out on pension contributions because their income is split across different employers.


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