In this last column before Christmas I’m going to tell you how to find yourself a present – from your past. One and a half million people have a pension they have forgotten about, and the average value is £13,000.
It’s surprisingly easy to lose track of a pension – the average person now has 11 jobs in their lifetime, and when you leave a role you may never think about it again. But it’s very likely the value of that pension will still be waiting for you (albeit diminished by charges).
In fact, you may even have a pension you never knew about. Since 2012, big employers have automatically enrolled most of their employees into a pension – and from 2018 every employer has had to do so, even the smallest. But research indicates that up to half of the more than ten million people automatically enrolled do not know they have a pension. Pension schemes do try to keep in touch with their members, but many people don’t tell their pension company when they change their address, so it can’t find them.
To locate an old pension, the best place to start is the Government-sponsored moneyhelper.org.uk website. It explains which pensions might be lost and how to find them. It also recommends other trustworthy websites that can help. Do not search “pension tracing” on Google or other search engines, as you will get commercial companies or even fraudsters. Often they will offer you a “free” pension review. Never accept: it’s just an attempt to get hold of your money.
If you do find missing pensions, consider consolidating them into one place, where charges will probably be lower. One firm that pioneered pension consolidation is Pension Bee: it can combine your pensions into one relatively low cost fund. For information, search for “pension tracing” at moneyhelper.org.uk, or call free 0800 011 3797. Or try pensionbee.com/FAQ.
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Paul Lewis presents Money Box on Radio 4.
QUESTIONS? Send any questions to Paul.Lewis@radiotimes.com. Paul cannot answer you personally, but will reflect them in his column