Pensioner reliance on state benefits hits highest level in decades

Hannah Godfrey reports...

One in six (17%) pensioners in the UK are surviving on the State Pension alone, the highest portion in more than two decades, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

In fact, the proportion of those relying solely on state benefits has increased by three percentage points, up from 14% in the 2017/18 tax year.

Single pensioners are the most dependent on the state, with a quarter having no additional income to state benefits – the highest proportion ever recorded.

Equiniti propositions and solutions director Chris Connelly said improving the awareness of retirement savings was the key to increasing the amount of income available to those entering retirement.

“These figures underline how crucial it is that people continue to learn about the importance of a later-life income,” he added.

“It is worrying that one in six UK pensioners seem to be entering retirement with no personal savings or investments, leaving them to rely solely on the income the state is able to provide.”

Income components

The statistics also underlined the consistent increase in state benefits over the past decade. Payments total £229 a week on average – or around £11,900 per year – and account for more than two-fifths (43%) of pensioner income.

Occupational pension income, meanwhile, saw a slight drop, falling from £160 to £148 a week although it still accounted for more than a quarter (28%) of pensioner income. Earnings income emerged as the third highest component increasing to £92 a week and 17% of total income.