Over a million households rely on state pension for retirement

Over one million pensioner households in the UK primarily rely on the state pension as their main source of retirement, Just Group has found.

In analysis of Office of National Statistics (ONS) data, it was found that 1.2 million retired households are “mainly reliant” on the state pension.

The ONS defines this statement as a household that has at least three quarters of its total income provided by the state pension or other similar pension-related state benefits.

Single pensioners account for the majority of these households largely reliant on state pension, with Just Group stating that there is a “worrying gender imbalance”, showing that three times as many women (580,000) as men (180,000) rely primarily on the state pension.

Two-person retired households account for around 450,000 households that largely rely on the state pension.

The Pension and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) has calculated that the annual minimum income standard for a single pensioner should be £12,800 a year, with the state pension currently standing at £10,600. This creates a shortfall of £2,200 every year to meet the PLSA’s minimum standard.

Just Group has said that even with the projected 8.5% increase added by the triple lock, taking the state pension to around £11,500 per annum, pensioners reliant on the state pension would still fall short of this minimum income standard by £1,300 per year.

Group communications director at Just Group, Stephen Lowe, said: "The PLSA’s minimum income standard is more than £2,000 a year higher than the current state pension and demonstrates the gap that over one million retirees, who are largely dependent on the state pension, need to bridge to achieve a minimum standard of living.

"Filling this income gap presents a difficult task given this group of people are not of working age so going out to work and earning more is unlikely to be an option. It means those without any income beyond the State Pension are likely to have to find ways to cut their costs to the tune of £166 a month.

"This is a problem that affects women disproportionately – sadly we can’t say this is a surprise given all we know about the pension gender gap. There are twice as many women (412,300) over the age of 90 as men (197,220) in the UK3 and 72% of women in the UK aged 85 or older are widowed.

"Checking benefit eligibility is an equally important step in ensuring a financially stable retirement, with the latest data5 on benefit take-up evidencing that just six in 10 people eligible for pension credit claimed it, leaving £2.1 billion of unclaimed support in 2022.

"Ultimately, however, the wide-spread financial fragility and state income dependence highlighted in our research places even greater pressure on the Chancellor to confirm the triple lock in Wednesday’s Autumn Statement. Maintaining the triple lock could be a lifeline for the vast number of pensioners whose livelihoods depend on the state pension keeping up with costs of living."

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