Imagine if you’d lost a fiver down the back of the sofa. You’d probably spend a few minutes looking for it, wouldn’t you? Now imagine it was £13,000! More than 1.5 million Britons have a pension they’ve “lost” or forgotten about – and the average value of those unclaimed pensions is £13,000. However, they can usually be reclaimed with just a little work.
There are good reasons why you might have lost track of your pensions: you may have forgotten to let a provider know about a change of address, or not got round to transferring a workplace pension when you swapped jobs. You might even have been enrolled for a pension without knowing about it: since 2018 (2012 for bigger companies) employers have had a legal requirement to set up a pension for employees unless those individuals specifically opt out.
The good news is that no one can take your pension away from you, even if you haven’t claimed it. So – with some deductions for the inevitable management charge – your money sits there waiting for you.
First, have a look through the advice at moneyhelper.org.uk (or call them on 0800 011 3797). This Government-sponsored, non-profit institution has a thorough explanation of what happens with lost pensions – and how to find them. Simply enter “pension tracing” in the search box.
Do not be tempted to search for “pension tracing” via Google. Many of the results returned – though they may have official-sounding names – are commercial companies who will offer you a “free” pension review but in reality are trying to get hold of a slice of your money.
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Once you’ve found a missing pension or two, it might be worth consolidating them into one place, thus lowering the charges. There are some dubious companies offering to do this for you, too, but Pension Bee was one of the first firms to offer this service, and it can reliably combine your pension pots into just one, fairly low-cost, fund; see pensionbee.com. But do check the charges.
One other thing to try: Gretel (gretel.co.uk) is a free, non-profit service that reunites people with their lost funds: bank accounts, investments and pensions. It takes minutes to set up, and has already returned millions of pounds to its rightful owners since being set up a couple of years ago.
QUESTIONS? Send any questions to Paul.Lewis@radiotimes.com. Paul cannot answer you personally, but will reflect them in his column