Average UK worker may unknowingly breach £1.1m lifetime allowance

The average worker is on track to exceed the current lifetime allowance of £1,073,100 by the typical retirement age of 64-65 in the UK, according to new modelling from online pension provider PensionBee.

PensionBee said this is because many workers with varying salaries may be unaware of how much they’ve saved with the aid of auto-enrolment, and could be at risk of triggering tax penalties of up to 55% on any pension withdrawals by breaching the lifetime allowance.
As expected, the youngest, highest earning workers of today are most at risk of hitting the lifetime allowance threshold early. PensionBee’s modelling highlighted that the top 10% of 18-21 year old earners, with a salary of £21,899, could exceed the current allowance at the age of 57-58, seven years before the typical retirement age. In fact, by the age of 60, this group could be expected to have a pension pot of £1,308,038, assuming they begin saving from age 18.

However, this is not just a potential problem for the highest earners. Even 18-21 year old workers, with an average salary for their age group of £12,275 could be likely to reach the threshold at the same time as the typical retirement age of 64-65, with an expected pension pot of £777,489 by the age of 60. Those who begin contributing to their pension a few years later, at age 22, could face the same risks. The top 10% of 22-29 year old earners, with an average salary of £40,000, are predicted to surpass the threshold six years before retirement, at age 58-59, ultimately, accumulating an expected pension pot of £1,157,677 by the time they reach 60.

While 22-29 year olds, with an average salary of £25,997, aren’t expected to breach the lifetime allowance until the ages of 66-67, they could still be likely to trigger tax penalties. This is due to many savers tending to hold off making withdrawals immediately, and continue to contribute into their pension beyond the typical retirement age.

Romi Savova, CEO of PensionBee, commented: “While there are already sensible limits on how much an individual can pay into their pension each year, the current lifetime allowance limit punishes those who have saved diligently throughout their working life and contradicts the government’s message that everyone should be saving for retirement.

"A much more reasonable measure would be to eliminate the lifetime allowance and instead focus on the current annual allowance, where we see far less people contributing up to the threshold as a whole. As life expectancies increase, many workers will continue to contribute into their pension far beyond their working lives, so I would encourage all savers to keep a close eye on their contributions to avoid being penalised, while ensuring that they are saving enough to be able to enjoy a comfortable retirement.”

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