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Chapter 6: Private Pension Wealth, Wealth in Great Britain 2010-12 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 15 May 2014 Download PDF

Key points

This chapter examines private (non-state) pension wealth estimates from the Wealth and Assets Survey in 2006/08, 2008/10 and 2010/12.

  • In 2010/12, 34% of adults aged 16 + contributed to a private pension. The percentage varied by gender with 37% of men making contributions compared with 31% of women.

  • In 2010/12, a much higher proportion of employees in the public sector (85%) belonged to a current occupational pension scheme than their counterparts in the private sector (40%).The median value of current occupational pension wealth of employees in the public sector (£42,600) was nearly double that of employees in the private sector (£24,000).

  • In 2010/12, median wealth held in private pensions from which individuals had not yet drawn an income (i.e. current and retained pensions) was much higher in defined benefit (DB) pensions (£39,900) than in defined contribution (DC) pensions (£15,000). Some people accumulate wealth in both DB and DC pensions.

  • In 2010/12, 19% of individuals aged 16 + received income from a private pension. The median wealth held in pensions that were already being paid (pensions in payment) was £91,400. A higher proportion of men (21%) than women (17%) received such income. The median level of wealth held by men (£127,900) in pensions in payment was more than double than that of women (£61,200).

  • In 2010/12, around a quarter (24%) of all households in Great Britain had no private pension wealth.

  • Aggregate private pension wealth in Great Britain increased from £3.46 trillion in 2008/10 to £3.59 trillion in 2010/12 (figures not adjusted for inflation). This was mainly explained by an increase in current pension wealth.

  • In 2010/12, of those who had any private pension wealth, the 10% of households with the highest had almost half of the total (48%). This was six times the total private pension wealth of the 50% of households who had the lowest.

Introduction

This chapter looks at estimates of private (non-state) pension wealth in Great Britain from the Wealth and Assets Survey (WAS). It presents new data from the third wave of the survey (July 2010 to June 2012) alongside revised estimates from Wave 1 (July 2006 to June 2008) and Wave 2 (July 2008 to June 2010). 

Unlike the other forms of wealth presented in this report, pension wealth is not immediately accessible for most individuals. In most cases, the earliest age at which it was possible to receive an income from a registered private pension in 2008/10 was age 50. As a result of the Finance Act 2004 this increased to 55 from April 2010.

The figures in this chapter relate to private pension wealth only, which means state pension wealth is excluded from the analysis. The latter part of the chapter will show that wealth from private pensions is not very evenly distributed as many individuals have zero or very low private pension wealth. As state pension wealth is more evenly distributed, the distribution of total pension wealth (state plus private) will be less skewed. This chapter does not include analysis of total pension wealth.

The information relating to Wave 2 published in this report differs, sometimes by a considerable amount, from the information previously published, mainly due to further development of the methodology used to incorporate annuity rates and discount factors. Wave 3 information has also been used to improve the assumptions used in the Wave 2 imputation process. Wave 1 information has also been improved, although to a lesser extent.

Compared to the previous release of Wave 1 and 2 data, the changes and improvements have resulted in lower estimates of pension wealth but relatively unchanged estimates of membership levels. Overall, the estimates of aggregate pension wealth in this release are 20 per cent lower for Wave 1 and 28 per cent lower for Wave 2 (see Table 6.12). 

For Wave 1, the methodological changes and other improvements made the most difference to wealth estimates relating to Defined Benefit (DB) pensions.  For example, median wealth for individuals with occupational DB pensions in Wave 1 is 45 per cent lower in this release than in the earlier release.  For Wave 2, the changes have resulted in lower estimates of median wealth for all pension types but, as in Wave 1, the impact has been greater on wealth estimates for DB pensions.

The chapter begins by looking at the membership and level of wealth held in current pensions, defined as pensions to which individuals were contributing during the reference period. This information is presented for the different types of pension: occupational DB; occupational defined contribution (DC); and personal pensions, which include group personal and group stakeholder pensions – see Concepts and definitions. In addition, estimates of current occupational pension wealth (DB and DC occupational pension wealth combined) are presented by whether an employee was working in the private or public sector.

The chapter also provides estimates of pension wealth held in retained pensions. These are pensions to which individuals have stopped contributing but from which they are not yet drawing an income. This is followed by analysis comparing, for pensions that have not yet been drawn (current plus retained), the level of wealth held in DB and DC types of pensions. Estimates of wealth held in pensions from which individuals were receiving an income (pensions in payment) are also considered.

The chapter closes by bringing the different forms of private pension wealth together to look at wealth in all private pensions, that is, current, retained and pensions in payment. This is shown at the individual level, for households and for Great Britain as a whole.

The data presented in this chapter are in the form of cross-sectional estimates for Wave 1, Wave 2 and Wave 3. All estimates of wealth are in nominal terms, (values are not adjusted for inflation). However, some of the estimates required modelling, which has been done using a method developed by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

Due to the complexity of the data, for example, the use of imputed values and complex weighting, no formal significance testing has been undertaken.

The survey sampled private individuals and households in Great Britain. This means that people in residential institutions, such as retirement homes, nursing homes, prisons, barracks or university halls of residence, and also homeless people, are excluded from the scope of the analysis presented in this chapter.

Further information about the survey is included in Chapter 1: Introduction and Demographics and in Chapter 7: Technical Details.

The first three waves of the survey took place before automatic enrolment was introduced in October 2012 and this chapter does not, therefore, reflect changes in pension membership since that date.
 

Concepts and definitions

Private pensions

All pensions that are not provided by the state. They comprise occupational and personal pensions, and include pensions of public sector workers.

Defined benefit (DB) pensions

Pensions in which the rules of the scheme specify the rate of benefits to be paid. The most common DB scheme is a ‘final salary’ scheme in which the benefits are based on the number of years of pensionable service, the accrual rate, and either the final salary, the average of selected years’ salaries, or the best year’s salary within a specified period before retirement. Other types of DB scheme include career average re-valued earnings (CARE) schemes.

Defined contribution (DC) pensions

Pensions in which the benefits are determined by the contributions paid into the pension, the investment return on the contributions (which are normally invested in the stock market), and the type of annuity purchased upon retirement. An annuity is a contract between an insurance company and an individual under which the individual pays all or part of their pension fund to the insurance company in return for an agreed regular income for the remainder of their life. DC pensions are also known as money purchase pensions. They can be either occupational or personal. Personal pensions include stakeholder and self invested personal pensions, both of which are forms of DC pension. Personal pensions can be sponsored by an employer (referred to as group personal pensions) or arranged on an individual basis. In this chapter, the definition of occupational does not include any personal pensions, while the definition of workplace pensions includes occupational pensions, group personal pensions and group stakeholder pensions.

Medians and means

The median is the preferred measure of central tendency or ‘average’ in this chapter because many of the data distributions are not symmetrical. This is because a small proportion of individuals have high values of wealth with a larger proportion of individuals having very low wealth by comparison. In such unequal distributions, the mean is likely to be influenced by high values, so it does not reflect the experience of most individuals.

Pension Wealth

The calculation of pension wealth is complicated. Private pension wealth was split into nine categories and a slightly different valuation method was applied to each. The nine categories of private pension wealth are:
• DB occupational pensions to which interviewees were currently contributing;
• DC occupational pensions to which interviewees were currently contributing;
• Personal pensions (all DC) to which interviewees were contributing or could have contributed at the time of the interview, including group personal and group stakeholder pensions offered by employers;
• Additional voluntary contributions (AVCs) to personal pensions (all DC) made by people with DB pensions;
• Retained rights in DB pensions;
• Retained rights in DC pensions;
• Remaining value of pension funds from which people were drawing an income through ‘income drawdown’ (where people take income from the fund but the fund remains invested);
• Pensions expected in the future based on the pension contributions of a former spouse or partner;
• Pensions already being paid out (‘pensions in payment’).

The pension wealth figures presented here represent a person’s future pension income in retirement, expressed as an equivalent ‘pot of money’. The estimates include only the pension rights accumulated to date. For people who are still working, they do not include rights which may be built up in future.

Wealth from DB pensions (current, retained and pensions in payment) is calculated using financial assumptions (discount rates and annuity factors) which change over time. Wealth from DC pensions is calculated from the reported value of the fund. This was explained in more detail in an annex on pension wealth methodology contained in the previous release of this report in 2012. The methodology chapter of this Wealth and Assets report also contains relevant information.

 

Current Pension Wealth

This section explores membership of, and amount of wealth held in, private pensions to which individuals in Great Britain were currently contributing. It, therefore, does not include the pensions that an individual may have contributed to in the past but was no longer contributing to, or pensions from which an individual was receiving an income.

Membership of current pensions

The first part of this section focuses on the proportion of individuals aged 16 and over that were contributing to a pension or to more than one type of pension. It is followed by more detailed analysis of the amounts of wealth held in each pension type and the proportion of individuals in Great Britain, by age group, who were and were not contributing to specific types of private pensions in 2010/12.

Table 6.1

Percentage of individuals aged 16 plus that currently contribute to a private pension scheme, by pension type and sex: Great Britain, 2006/08 - 2010/12

Percentages
      2006/08   2008/10   2010/12
      Men Women All   Men Women All   Men Women All
No current pension 58 67 62   59 68 64   63 69 66
Any type of pension 42 33 38   41 32 36   37 31 34
of which    
Occupational DB only 16 17 17   16 19 17   16 19 18
Occupational DC only  9 6 8   7 5 6   8 5 7
Personal pension only 13 7 10   13 6 10   8 3 6
  More than one type   4 3 3   5 3 4   5 3 4

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Table 6.1 shows that the majority (66%) of adults in Great Britain were not contributing to a private pension in 2010/12. A higher proportion of women (69%) than men (63%) did not contribute to a private pension.
Looking at the types of pension to which people did contribute, Table 6.1 shows that, in all three periods, a higher proportion of men than of women contributed to either a defined contribution (DC) scheme, a Personal Pension or to more than one type of pension. However, in each period a higher proportion of women than men contributed to a defined benefit (DB) scheme. This may reflect the fact that a larger proportion of public sector workers are women and pension provision in the public sector is predominantly DB.
The table also shows a decrease in the percentage of people with personal pensions only between 2008/10 and 2010/12. This is highlighted further in Table 6.4 and its related commentary. 

Current occupational defined benefit (DB) pension wealth

Some employers offer their employees the opportunity to join a DB pension scheme. The concepts and definitions section of this chapter has a description of this type of scheme. Table 6.2 shows the proportion of individuals in Great Britain that belonged to DB schemes and the wealth those individuals held in these schemes.

Table 6.2

Percentage of individuals with wealth in current occupational DB pensions and amount of wealth (£) held in such pensions, by age and sex: Great Britain, 2006/08 - 2010/12

£
      Men   Women   All
      % with Median   % with Median   % with Median
2006/08 16–24 5          5,300   7         5,000   6         5,000
  25–34 20       18,100   25       12,900   23       15,000
  35–44 29       60,800   30       31,400   30       43,800
  45–54 31     137,600   33       57,600   32       86,400
  55–64 19     170,100   17       89,600   18    120,700
  65+ 0*  69,800*    0*  74,300*    0       74,300
  All 18       67,400   19       31,200   19       45,000
                     
2008/10 16–24 5          4,000   7         3,400   6         3,800
  25–34 21       13,900   28       12,400   24       13,000
  35–44 29       58,000   32       30,800   30       42,500
  45–54 31     130,400   36       64,200   33       90,400
  55–64 20     178,100   19    109,000   20    136,500
  65+ 1*  76,200*    1*  75,700*    1       75,700
  All 18       64,400   20       32,600   19       43,600
                     
2010/12 16–24 5          3,900   7         2,200   6         3,400
  25–34 23       13,700   27       11,600   25       12,400
  35–44 28       50,000   35       26,600   32       35,300
  45–54 32     153,900   37       69,000   35       95,800
  55–64 21     173,200   20    114,300   20    140,300
  65+ 1*  175,100*    1*  58,300*    1       99,900
  All 19       63,300   21       32,700   20       43,800

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Excludes individuals with zero wealth in current occupational DB schemes.
  2. Although the methodology for calculating DB pension wealth has remained the same across the three waves, there have been changes in the financial assumptions.
  3. * = indicates a data point based on a small sample - such data points should be treated with some caution.

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Table 6.2 shows that in 2010/12, the overall median current DB pension wealth was £43,800, £200 more than the 2008/10 equivalent and £1,200 less than the 2006/08 figure. In all three periods, the overall median value of men’s current occupational DB pension wealth was much higher than that of women. This lower level of wealth among women reflects the combination of fewer years of membership and the generally lower salaries that are more likely to characterise women’s employment compared to men’s. The table also highlights how the median value of current occupational DB pension wealth increased steadily with age up to 64 years old, with the figure for those aged 55 to 64 being £140,300 in 2010/12. The proportion of those aged 65 and over with wealth in current DB pensions was negligible which is not surprising given the lower employment rates in this age group and the fact that the majority of DB schemes had a normal pension age of 65 or less.

A longitudinal perspective

Table 6.A follows a cohort of individuals in the 2006/08 wave through the three waves, looking at the individuals who had wealth in current occupational DB pensions in Wave 1 and the amount of wealth held by this group in the same pension type in the following waves. As it follows a cohort, no new individuals can enter the category in Waves 2 or 3. Individuals with a non-response in either Wave 2 or Wave 3 are removed from all three waves to avoid an artificial fall in proportions with such wealth in the later waves.

Table 6.A

Longitudinal percentage of individuals with wealth in current occupational DB pensions and amount of wealth (£) held in such pensions, by sex: Great Britain, 2006/08 - 2010/12

£
  Men   Women   All
  % with Median   % with Median   % with Median
2006/08 100 63,900   100 30,900   100 43,600
                 
2008/10 73 96,400   80 45,000   77 65,900
                 
2010/12 61 122,200   68 58,700   65 81,000

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Excludes individuals with zero wealth in current occupational DB schemes.
  2. Individuals with a non-response in any of the three periods are excluded from all periods.

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Table 6.A is similar to Table 6.2 in that both tables provide information on individuals with current occupational DB wealth. However, Table 6.2 provides data for each wave about everyone in that wave who has wealth in a current occupational DB pension. As mentioned above, Table 6.A provides data only for those respondents who had a current occupational DB pension in 2006/08 and who provided any response in both 2008/10 and 2010/12. Table 6.A suggests that just under a quarter of individuals who reported current DB wealth in Wave 1 no longer had wealth in a current occupational DB pension in Wave 2 and about 35% did not have wealth in such a scheme in Wave 3. The percentages of women with current DB wealth in Wave 1 who no longer had wealth in such schemes in Waves 2 and 3 were both lower than the equivalent figures for men. The table indicates that the median wealth of the individuals who continued to have wealth in a DB pension increased by 51% between 2006/08 and 2008/10 and by 23% between 2008/10 and 2010/12.  In total, this is equivalent to an 86% increase in the median wealth from Wave 1 to Wave 3.

As the introduction to this chapter explained, wealth from current DB pensions is calculated using financial assumptions (discount rates and annuity factors). The changes in median wealth in Table 6.A reflect changes to these assumptions but also take account of differences between the characteristics of the original cohort and of those individuals from the cohort who still had current DB pensions in Waves 2 and 3. The relatively high percentage changes in median between the waves suggest that the individuals included in all three waves were those with a higher median DB pension wealth in Wave 1 than the cohort as a whole. The small differences between the 2006/08 data in Table 6.2 and Table 6.A is caused by the inclusion in the former of data from those individuals who did not respond in Waves 2 and / or 3.

Current occupational defined contribution (DC) pension wealth

Some employers offer their employees the opportunity to join a defined contribution (DC) pension scheme. In these types of scheme, the income an individual will receive in retirement usually depends on the contributions that have been paid in, the investment return received on those contributions and the annuity rate available at retirement. Table 6.3 shows the proportion of individuals in Great Britain that belonged to DC schemes and the wealth those individuals held in these schemes.

Table 6.3

Percentage of individuals with wealth in current occupational DC pensions and amount of wealth (£) held in such pensions, by age and sex: Great Britain, 2006/08 - 2010/12

      Men   Women   All
      % with Median   % with Median   % with Median
2006/08 16–24   4      2,500   4 2,400              4 2,500
  25–34   16      6,200   11 4,000           14 5,000
  35–44   16    10,000   11 7,500           14 8,900
  45–54   14    16,500   10 7,000           12 11,500
  55–64   10    20,000   5 7,500              8 14,000
  65+   2    27,000   1 13,700              1 22,000
  All   11    10,000   7 6,000              9 8,000
                     
2008/10 16–24   4      2,500   3 1,500              3 2,500
  25–34   14      7,000   10 6,700           12 6,700
  35–44   16    13,900   9 9,900           12 11,600
  45–54   13    16,000   7 9,500           10 13,000
  55–64   9    25,000   4 12,900              6 18,500
  65+   0* 19,000*   0* 12,300*   0* 18,000*
  All   10    12,000   5 8,000              8 10,000
                     
2010/12 16–24   3      2,400   3 3,800              3 3,000
  25–34   13      9,500   11 6,500           12 7,500
  35–44   18    16,000   11 7,900           14 12,400
  45–54   16    18,000   9 11,000           12 15,000
  55–64   10    20,000   5 8,000              8 14,500
  65+   0* 23,300*   0* 15,000*    0*  18,200*
  All   10    14,500   7 7,500              8 10,800

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Excludes individuals with zero wealth in current occupational DC schemes.
  2. *  = indicates a data point based on a small sample - such data points should be treated with some caution.

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Table 6.3 shows that, overall, the median value of current occupational DC pension wealth increased slightly from £10,000 in 2008/10 to £10,800 in 2010/12 and had also increased between 2006/08 and 2008/10 (from £8,000 to £10,000). Table 6.3 also shows that the median value of men’s current occupational DC pension wealth was larger than that of women’s in all three waves. In fact, in 2010/12 the median value for women (£7,500) was only just over half that for men (£14,500) a smaller proportion than in 2008/10, when it was about two thirds of that for men (£8,000, compared to £12,000).

Current personal pension wealth

All individuals are eligible to make contributions to personal pensions should they choose to do so. Throughout waves 1 to 3 of the survey, contributors to private pensions included individuals not eligible for workplace pensions such as the self-employed; those not currently working; those not offered a pension scheme by their employer  and those contributing on top of their occupational pension. As explained in the Concepts and Definitions section, personal pensions can be purchased from an insurance company by an individual. However, an employer may facilitate the purchase of personal pensions for its employees (known as a group personal or group stakeholder pension). Self-invested personal pensions (on an individual or group basis) are also included in Table 6.4. As all personal pensions are DC, the income an individual will receive in retirement from such pensions depends on the contributions that have been paid in, the investment return received on those contributions and the annuity rate available at retirement. Table 6.4 shows the proportion of individuals belonging to personal pensions and the wealth those individuals held in these pensions.

Table 6.4

Percentage of individuals with wealth in current personal pensions and amount of wealth (£) held in such pensions, by age and sex: Great Britain, 2006/08 - 2010/12

£
        Men   Women   All
        % with Median   % with Median   % with Median
2006/08 16–24   2 3,200   1* 2,200*   1 2,800
  25–34   11 7,000   7 4,000   9 5,500
  35–44   25 14,000   14 7,000   20 10,200
  45–54   26 20,000   13 10,600   19 16,000
  55–64   21 26,000   8 13,400   14 21,000
  65+   12 31,000   5 21,000   8 29,000
  All   17 18,000   9 9,000   13 14,900
                       
2008/10 16–24   2*  2,600*    1*  2,600*    2         2,600
  25–34   11          9,200   7            4,500   9         7,000
  35–44   25       14,000   12            8,000   18       11,500
  45–54   27       21,600   13          10,000   20       17,000
  55–64   25       26,000   9          15,500   17       21,800
  65+   6       34,100   2          18,600   4       27,200
  All   17       17,300   8            9,700   12       15,000
                       
2010/12 16–24   1*  24,000*    0*  200*    1*  23,000* 
  25–34   8          7,500   4            5,000   6         6,900
  35–44   21       15,000   11            8,000   16       12,500
  45–54   24       22,000   12          13,000   18       18,200
  55–64   17       38,700   6          19,500   12       30,200
  65+   1       75,300   0*  25,000*    0       70,000
  All   12       19,000   6          10,000   9       16,000

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Excludes those with zero personal pension wealth.
  2. Personal pensions include stakeholder and self invested personal pensions, held on a group or individual basis.
  3. * = indicates a data point based on a small sample - such data points should be treated with some caution.

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Table 6.4 shows that between 2008/10 and 2010/12, overall median current personal pension wealth increased from £15,000 to £16,000. The increase in median current personal pension wealth over the period is likely to be partly explained by additional years of contributions but differences in wealth in the three periods also reflect the effects of changes in the values of investments. The table shows a decrease in the proportion of individuals with wealth in current personal pensions between 2008/10 and 2010/12 from 12% to 9% after a smaller fall (from 13%) between 2006/08 to 2008/10. One factor in the overall decrease in the proportion of individuals with wealth in current personal pensions is the long term decrease in the percentage of self-employed people belonging to a personal pension scheme, a trend that is highlighted in other data sources such as the General Lifestyle Survey. In all three periods, the proportion of men that were contributing to a personal pension was about twice the proportion of women and this was true across all age groups in 2010/12. The median current personal pension wealth of men in 2010/12 was almost twice that of women, £19,000 compared with £10,000.

Total current pension wealth

Tables 6.2 to 6.4 explored the value of current pensions held in DB or DC schemes or in personal pensions. The following table and associated text examines the value of total wealth held in all types of current private pensions, that is, the combined value of all DB, DC and personal pensions to which individuals contributed.

Table 6.5

Percentage of individuals with wealth in current private pensions and amount of total wealth (£) held in such pensions, by age and sex: Great Britain, 2006/08 - 2010/12

£
    Men   Women   All
    % with Median   % with Median   % with Median
2006/10 16–24 10 3,600   11 3,600   11 3,600
  25–34 43 12,000   41 9,400   42 10,400
  35–44 62 28,500   51 20,000   56 23,800
  45–54 64 54,200   52 34,500   58 42,900
  55–64 46 60,200   28 42,000   37 53,500
  65+ 14 32,300   6 21,000   10 29,200
  All 42 30,000   32 19,200   37 24,100
                   
2008/10 16–24 11 3,100   10 3,000   11 3,000
  25–34 43 11,700   43 10,900   43 11,100
  35–44 61 30,000   48 23,100   54 27,000
  45–54 63 58,000   51 41,100   57 49,400
  55–64 48 61,300   30 55,900   39 59,500
  65+ 7 34,500   3 19,300   5 29,100
  All 40 30,000   31 22,500   36 26,600
                   
2010/12 16–24 9 3,900   10 2,700   9 3,400
  25–34 41 12,000   40 9,800   40 10,700
  35–44 58 32,200   51 21,400   54 26,200
  45–54 62 70,000   52 46,300   57 58,000
  55–64 43 83,400   29 66,100   36 75,400
  65+ 2 95,000   1 37,900   2 69,100
  All 37 35,000   31 22,800   34 28,600

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Excludes individuals with zero current private pension wealth.
  2. Estimates of the percentage of individuals with wealth in current private pensions presented within Table 6.5 may be slightly lower than estimates of the percentage of individuals currently contributing to private pensions presented within Table 6.1. This is because a small number of individuals that report contributing to  private pensions are deemed to have no actual  pension wealth when pension wealth is calculated utilising the methodology employed within this article. For more information see Chapter 7 of this release: Technical Details.

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Table 6.5 shows that in 2010/12, just over a third (34%) of individuals aged 16 and above were contributing to a private (non-state) pension, a slightly lower percentage than in 2006/08 and 2008/10 (37% and 36%, respectively). The overall median value of current private pension wealth increased from £24,100 in 2006/08 to £26,600 in 2008/10 and £28,600 in 2010/12, with increases partly due to additional years of contributions. The proportion of men with wealth in occupational DB or DC, or personal, pensions was 37% in 2010/12 down from 42% in 2006/08 and 40% in 2008/10. For women, the proportion was similar in each period (32% in the first and 31% in both 2008/10 and 2010/12). Between Wave 1 and Wave 3, median wealth held by men in current private pensions increased from £30,000 to £35,000 and from £19,200 to £22,800 for women.

Current occupational pension wealth in the public and private sector

New data in the second and third waves of WAS have allowed us to explore differences in occupational pension wealth between those employed in the public and private sector. Information on employment in the public or private sector is not available for Wave 1.
Employees were asked whether the firm or organisation that they worked for was a private firm, business or limited company, or some other kind of organisation (such as a university, charity or public limited company). Based on their responses, employees were classified as belonging to either the public sector or private sector, with some employees being classified as “unknown”.
Table 6.6 shows the wealth of only those employees currently contributing to occupational pensions, but not other workplace pensions (which include group personal pensions). It is not possible to split the wealth of those contributing to personal pensions in WAS between those contributing to group personal pensions and those contributing to individual personal pensions.

Table 6.6

Percentage of employees with wealth in current occupational (DB and DC) pension schemes and amounts of wealth (£) held in such pensions, by age and sector: Great Britain, 2008/10 - 2010/12

        Public   Private   All employees
        % with Median   % with Median   % with Median
2008/10 16–24   49 3,000   9 2,700   15 3,100
  25–34   82 13,900   36 9,200   49 11,300
  35–44   86 38,100   45 27,500   57 30,700
  45–54   88 82,100   47 50,000   61 65,000
  55–64   80 126,900   43 64,600   55 98,200
  65+   29 75,300   9* 30,000*   15 57,000
  All   82 40,300   38 24,400   50 30,000
                       
2010/12 16–24   51 2,700   10 3,100   16 3,200
  25–34   85 13,200   36 9,500   48 10,900
  35–44   88 32,400   49 23,800   61 27,600
  45–54   91 96,300   50 54,300   63 71,200
  55–64   81 137,900   47 60,000   58 97,800
  65+   40 98,700   17 46,000   22 62,700
  All   85 42,600   40 24,000   52 30,000

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Excludes those with zero occupational pension wealth.
  2. “All employees” includes cases which were not classified as belonging to either the public or private sector, but still have some occuaptional pension wealth.
  3. This table refers only to employees contributing to occupational pension schemes at the time of the interview. It does not include those employees who have personal pensions.
  4. Estimates by gender are available in the downloadable file.
  5. * = indicates a data point based on a small sample - such data points should be treated with some caution.

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Retained Pension Wealth

The following section looks at the wealth held by individuals in pensions to which they were no longer contributing but from which they were not yet drawing an income. This will typically be the case when individuals have been a member of their employer’s pension and then left that employer before reaching the age at which they were able to draw an income.

Table 6.7

Percentage of individuals with wealth in retained pensions and average amount of wealth held in such pensions: by age and sex: Great Britain, 2006/08 - 2010/12

£
        Men   Women   All
        % with Median1   % with Median1   % with Median1
 2006/08   16–24   2* 4,000*   1* 2,200*   1 3,700
    25–34   9 5,800   8 4,000   8 4,700
    35–44   19 13,200   17 9,400   18 11,500
    45–54   23 25,000   18 12,400   21 19,300
    55–64   20 30,100   9 19,000   15 27,000
    65+   2 32,000   1 10,800   2 20,500
    All   13 18,000   9 10,000   11 14,000
                       
 2008/10   16–24   2* 4,700*   2* 7,800*   2 6,300
    25–34   14 6,600   13 6,800   13 6,700
    35–44   29 14,800   26 11,100   28 13,000
    45–54   36 35,200   28 21,600   32 29,000
    55–64   34 46,600   18 29,100   26 40,000
    65+   5 32,000   6 22,600   5 27,100
    All   21 23,400   16 15,000   18 19,200
                       
 2010/12   16–24   1* 4,400*   2* 3,100*   1 4,400
    25–34   13 7,700   12 6,300   12 7,200
    35–44   28 17,000   26 12,400   27 14,800
    45–54   36 35,300   29 23,600   32 29,400
    55–64   30 49,900   17 33,600   23 41,500
    65+   4 40,000   5 34,800   4 36,000
    All   19 24,900   16 17,100   17 20,600

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Excludes those with zero occupational pension wealth.

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Table 6.7 shows that, between 2006/08 and 2008/10, the proportion of all individuals with wealth held in retained pensions increased from 11% to 18%, remaining at about the same level (17%) in 2010/12. The small change between 2008/10 and 2010/12 is explained by the proportion for men falling from 21% to 19%, with the proportion for women unchanged at 16%. The initial increase indicated that a large number of current pensions in 2006/08 were no longer receiving contributions in 2008/10. One possible explanation for this was the effect of the economic downturn, in terms of increases in unemployment, people moving jobs and, perhaps, pension scheme closures. Table 6.7 also shows that the proportion of individuals with this type of pension wealth generally increased with age up to the 45 to 54 age group before falling as individuals approached and reached the age at which they were able to cash in their retained rights and draw their pension incomes. The median wealth held by those with retained pensions increased from £19,200 to £20,600 between 2008/10 and 2010/12, a smaller increase than from 2006/08 to 2008/10 (£14,000 to £19,200). Across these three periods, for men, median wealth increased from £18,000 to £24,900, while for women, it increased from £10,000 to £17,100. Changes in retained pension wealth are difficult to interpret because of the combination of various factors that are likely to affect the estimates, for example:

  • Changes in the proportion of people reporting retained pensions;

  • Changes in the composition of retained pension wealth; 

  • Changes in the financial assumptions behind the calculation of retained defined benefit pension wealth across the three waves (see Chapter 7: Technical Details).

 

Pension Wealth in the Accumulation Phase

This section provides a complete picture of the accumulation phase by bringing together private pension wealth held in current and retained pensions, from both occupational and personal pensions. In other words, the section explores the wealth held by individuals in private pensions from which they were not yet drawing an income.  As private pensions play a crucial part for many people in the savings made for retirement , this gives an indication of the level of resources that will be available to individuals during retirement (beyond that which is received from the state). Table 6.8 shows the amount of wealth held in private pensions that were not in payment, as well as the proportion of individuals who had such wealth, by the two main types of pension in which individuals could have built up wealth.

Table 6.8

Percentage of individuals with wealth in pensions not yet in payment and average amount of wealth held in such pensions: by age and pension type: Great Britain, 2006/08 - 2010/12

£
        Defined Benefit (DB)   Defined Contribution (DC)   All
        % with Median   % with Median   % with Median
2006/08 16–24   6 4,900   6 2,500   12 3,600
    25–34   25 14,600   25 5,300   47 10,400
    35–44   36 40,700   38 10,200   64 24,700
    45–54   40 78,900   39 15,000   67 46,800
    55–64   23 113,600   28 20,000   45 56,100
    65+   1 65,200   10 28,000   11 30,000
    All   23 43,300   26 12,000   42 25,500
                       
2008/10 16–24   7 3,900   6 3,000   12 3,900
    25–34   30 11,800   25 8,000   49 12,000
    35–44   41 36,600   37 13,500   65 30,000
    45–54   46 77,700   38 20,000   69 60,000
    55–64   31 106,900   32 23,000   52 70,000
    65+   2 41,400   6 25,400   8 30,300
    All   27 40,800   25 15,000   43 31,300
                       
2010/12 16–24   7 3,200   4 3,800   10 3,400
    25–34   30 11,900   22 8,000   46 11,600
    35–44   43 31,700   38 13,300   66 29,700
    45–54   49 78,000   40 18,700   70 65,900
    55–64   30 118,000   29 25,000   49 77,800
    65+   2 66,700   2 29,100   4 48,600
    All   27 39,900   23 15,000   42 33,000

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Excludes individuals with zero wealth held in pensions not yet in payment.
  2. DB type pension wealth comprises current DB and retained rights in DB pensions; while DC type pension wealth comprises current DC occupational pensions, current personal pensions, AVCs, retained rights in DC pensions and retained pensions for drawdown.
  3. Some individuals have wealth in both current and retained pensions. This means that adding percentages of those with current pensions (from Table 6.5) to the proportion of those with retained pensions (Table 6.7) will not result in the overall proportion of individuals with wealth in either current or retained.

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As mentioned above, the table focuses on DB and DC pensions, the two main types. It shows that in the accumulation phase there was a large difference between the levels of wealth held in the two scheme types. In 2010/12, median wealth held in pensions that were not yet in payment was £39,900 for DB type pensions compared with £15,000 for DC type pensions. The biggest differences in median wealth between the two types of pension were in the older age groups.  In all three periods, the proportion of individuals who had wealth held in pensions from which they were not yet drawing an income was highest for those in the age group 45 to 54 years old (over two thirds in each case) and, unsurprisingly, lowest in the 16 to 24 and 65 and over age groups. This pattern was the same for DB and for DC pensions.

In each of the three periods the proportion of individuals with wealth held in pensions was similar (42% in 2006/08 and 2010/12 and 43% in 2008/10). During this period, the percentage of individuals with wealth held in DB pensions increased (from 23% to 27%). At the same time the equivalent percentage for DC pensions decreased (from 26% to 23%).

The median wealth held in pensions that are not yet in payment was higher in 2010/12 than it was in 2008/10 (£33,000 and £31,300, respectively). The median DC wealth was unchanged at £15,000, while DB median pension wealth fell from £40,800 to £39,900.

Pension Wealth from Pensions In Payment

The following section complements the previous one by looking at wealth held by individuals in private pensions that were in payment (or receipt). This means that the chapter moves on from showing private pension wealth in the accumulation phase to showing private pension wealth in the decumulation phase. However, it should be noted that it is possible that an individual could be receiving an income from one private pension while still accumulating pension wealth in another.

In WAS, wealth derived from pensions in payment was calculated by asking people how much private pension income they receive and then working out how much would be needed to purchase this pension (in the form of an annuity) for the remainder of their lives. Those in older age groups (with fewer years of life remaining), have lower levels of wealth than those in younger age groups (see Chapter 7: Technical Details). The calculation of the ‘pot’ requires assumptions to be made about annuity rates, and these may change over time.

Table 6.9

Percentage of individuals with wealth in pensions in payment and average amount of wealth held in such pensions: by age and sex: Great Britain, 2006/08 - 2010/12

£
        Men   Women   All
        % with Median   % with Median   % with Median
2006/08 <50   1 236,200   1 193,800   1 216,000
    50-54   9 187,900   5 144,500   7 168,000
    55-59   20 257,400   13 106,700   17 191,700
    60-64   48 208,200   42 72,800   45 124,000
    65-69   75 105,100   48 56,100   61 82,400
    70-74   77 83,300   50 48,500   63 67,600
    75+   74 40,000   48 23,900   58 30,900
    All   21 96,100   16 46,900   18 69,400
                       
2008/10 <50   1 224,300   1 165,600   1 199,000
    50-54   10 175,000   5 153,000   8 171,800
    55-59   18 282,900   15 147,800   16 218,900
    60-64   48 239,200   41 88,900   44 152,600
    65-69   73 129,700   49 62,200   61 102,600
    70-74   76 101,800   51 53,400   62 76,600
    75+   77 50,700   48 30,600   60 39,500
    All   20 108,800   16 55,100   18 80,300
                       
2010/12 <50   1 300,100   0 221,300   1 268,800
    50-54   9 205,800   5 159,900   7 175,600
    55-59   21 283,500   15 161,600   18 228,000
    60-64   51 254,200   44 108,800   48 168,300
    65-69   76 176,000   49 76,300   62 128,000
    70-74   76 116,200   51 54,900   63 86,800
    75+   77 54,600   51 32,000   62 42,500
    All   21 127,900   17 61,200   19 91,400

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Excludes individuals with zero wealth in pensions in payment.
  2. Pension in payment wealth comprises private pensions from which individuals were receiving an income (including spouse pensions).

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Table 6.9 shows estimates for the proportion of individuals who were receiving any income from a private pension and the value of this wealth. This includes private pensions received from a former spouse. Since very few people under the age of 50 received any income from private pensions, the age categories shown in Table 6.9 are different from those shown in previous tables in order to focus on the distribution of pensions in payment wealth within the older population.

Table 6.9 shows that in 2010/12 the overall median wealth held in pensions in payment was £91,400, compared with £80,300 in 2008/10 and £69,400 in 2006/08. For all individuals, the proportion receiving income from private pensions has been fairly similar in each period (18% in 2006/08 and 2008/10 and 19% in 2010/12). For the three oldest age groups (65-69, 70-74 and 75+) the percentages were also fairly constant (in the range of 58% to 63% in all periods).

For men, the median wealth held in pensions in payment (£127,900) in 2010/12 was more than double that for women (£61,200). The proportion who received income from pensions in payment was also higher for men (21%, compared to 17% for women). In the groups aged over 65, the proportions of men receiving income were much higher than women: around three quarters in each age group compared with about half of women. This highlights that women in these age groups had fewer opportunities to contribute to pensions when they were of working age than did similarly-aged men.

Total Private Pension Wealth

In the following section, all sources of private pension wealth, current (including additional voluntary contributions or AVCs), retained and pensions in payment, are drawn together. This allows us to summarise the level of total private pension wealth among individuals and households in Great Britain by certain key characteristics.

Total wealth held in private pensions (individual level)

Table 6.10 shows the proportion of individuals with any private pension wealth by age and sex. It also includes details of the median private pension wealth for these individuals and the same measure for the adult population as a whole.

Table 6.10

Percentage of individuals with wealth in private pensions and average amount of wealth (£) held in such pensions: by age and sex: Great Britain, 2006/08 - 2010/12

£
          Men   Women   All
          % with Median1   % with Median1   % with Median1
2006/08 16–24 11 3,600 12 3,500 11 3,500
    25–34   46 12,100 45 9,900 46 10,900
    35–44   70 31,400 60 21,500 65 25,900
    45–54   76 68,800 63 40,000 70 53,000
    55–64   79 134,500 57 66,100 68 99,800
    65-74   80 100,000 54 52,600 66 76,100
    75+   77 43,900 51 24,600 61 32,300
    All   63 49,300 51 26,700 57 36,600
                         
2008/10 16–24   12 3,900   12 3,900   12 3,900
    25–34   50 12,200   49 11,300   50 12,000
    35–44   70 36,000   60 26,700   65 30,100
    45–54   78 84,100   65 50,700   71 66,700
    55–64   81 161,200   60 86,800   70 121,000
    65-74   79 113,000   54 61,100   66 90,500
    75+   77 52,000   51 30,900   61 40,600
    All   64 56,700   53 33,200   58 43,600
                         
2010/12 16–24   10 4,100 12 2,500 11 3,400
    25–34   46 12,700 46 10,000 46 11,600
    35–44   68 37,800 64 23,300 66 30,000
    45–54   78 88,600 67 56,300 73 70,800
    55–64   81 174,100 63 99,100 72 135,900
    65-74   81 143,200 52 69,800 66 108,400
    75+   77 55,700 53 33,700 63 43,200
    All   64 63,000   54 34,800   58 46,900

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Excludes individuals with zero private pension wealth (i.e. only includes those with private pension wealth).

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As Table 6.10 shows, 58% of individuals had some private pension wealth in 2010/12, the same proportion as in 2008/10 and slightly higher than in 2006/08 (57%). The median value of this pension wealth (excluding those with zero private pension wealth) was higher in 2010/12 than in 2008/10, which was, in turn, higher than in 2006/08 (£46,900, £43,600 and £36,600, respectively). For the population as a whole, including those with zero private pension wealth, the median wealth in private pensions was £7,200 in 2010/12, an increase from £6,600 in 2008/10 and £4,500 in 2006/08.

In all three periods a higher proportion of men than women had any pension wealth (in 2010/12, for example, the proportions were 64% and 54% for men and women respectively). Overall, the median value of men’s total pension wealth was nearly twice as high as women’s in 2010/12, £63,000 compared with £34,800 (excluding those with zero pension wealth).

Table 6.10 shows that membership and, to a lesser extent, wealth is broadly similar for men and women in younger age groups (under 45 years old). However, the differences in median pension wealth and in proportions having pension wealth become more pronounced as age increases, with larger values for men in both cases. There are a number of possible reasons for the near equality in younger people. Firstly, a much lower proportion of people in this age group have any pension wealth at all and those that do are more likely to be in similar employment situations, regardless of gender. Secondly, many men and women are likely to have differing career paths as their working lives progress, influenced, for example, by caring responsibilities.

Total wealth held in private pensions (households)

The remainder of this section presents estimates of wealth held in private pensions at the household rather than at the individual level. In the following tables household wealth has been calculated as the sum of private pension wealth across all adults within the household.

Table 6.11 allows us to compare the median pension wealth in each wave of all households in Great Britain (including those with no private pension wealth) with the median of only those households that have some private pension wealth. Similar comparisons of upper and lower quartile values are also included and, for each type of pension wealth, median and quartile data are presented (excluding those with no pension wealth of the type in question).

Table 6.11

Proportion of households with wealth in private pensions and amount of wealth (£) held in such pensions, by type: Great Britain, 2006/08 - 2010/12

£
      % with 1st quartile Median 3rd quartile
2006/08 Current occupational DB pensions1 27 19,400 57,300 161,200
  Current occupational DC pensions1 14 3,000 9,200 28,000
Personal pensions1 20 6,000 16,900 40,500
  AVCs1 2 4,000 10,000 20,000
  Retained rights in DB pensions1 9 6,600 24,800 73,900
  Retained rights in DC pensions1   10 3,000 8,400 24,000
  Rights retained in pensions for drawdown1   0 22,500 32,000 189,800
Pensions expected from former spouse/partner1   1 1,600 15,300 58,000
  Pensions in receipt1 27 27,800 83,600 217,600
  Total pension wealth1     18,000 60,000 171,400
  Total pension wealth (whole population) 2 73 0 25,300 114,100
             
2008/10 Current occupational DB pensions1 29 19,700 59,700 165,000
  Current occupational DC pensions1 13 3,800 11,500 30,000
  Personal pensions1 20 6,000 16,500 40,000
  AVCs1 2 3,600 10,300 23,000
  Retained rights in DB pensions1 17 9,500 28,200 71,200
  Retained rights in DC pensions1   15 3,800 13,000 35,000
  Rights retained in pensions for drawdown1   0 6,000 21,000 46,000
  Pensions expected from former spouse/partner1   1 4,500 17,900 50,500
  Pensions in receipt1 28 35,300 100,500 247,200
  Total pension wealth1   22,400 71,600 196,700
  Total pension wealth (whole population) 2 75 0 35,000 137,700
             
2010/12 Current occupational DB pensions1 31 19,500 59,100 175,100
  Current occupational DC pensions1 14 4,100 12,100 35,100
Personal pensions1 15 6,600 18,000 45,400
  AVCs1 2 4,000 10,000 23,400
  Retained rights in DB pensions1 18 9,300 26,300 67,400
  Retained rights in DC pensions1   16 3,500 12,100 36,600
  Rights retained in pensions for drawdown1   0 13,000 30,000 130,000
Pensions expected from former spouse/partner1   1 11,400 36,000 88,300
  Pensions in receipt1 30 38,500 117,800 294,200
  Total pension wealth1     25,000 82,300 228,000
  Total pension wealth (whole population) 2 76 900 40,400 162,600

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Calculations for wealth estimates exclude those with zero pension wealth (i.e. only cover those with pensions).
  2. The rows highlighted in bold and labelled ‘Total pension wealth (whole population)’ include those with zero pension wealth.
  3. Although the methodology for calculating DB pension wealth has remained the same in all three waves, there have been changes in the financial assumptions. These are detailed in Chapter 7: Technical Details.
  4. Households can have wealth in more than one type of pension.

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In many cases, couples may have made joint provision for retirement. For example, if one partner worked and the other did not, the working partner may have contributed additional amounts to his or her private pension to ensure the final income would be sufficient to support both partners during retirement. Therefore, it makes sense to examine total private pension wealth held by all members of the household to supplement the individual picture presented elsewhere in this chapter. This approach also allows us to make comparisons at the household level between pension wealth with the other types of wealth which are reported at household level (see Total Wealth chapter).

About a quarter of households in Great Britain had no private pension wealth in 2010/12 and in the earlier two periods, highlighting an unequal distribution of private pension wealth, which is explored further in Figure 6.13.

The median private pension wealth of all households was higher in 2010/12 than it was in 2008/10 (£40,400 compared to £35,000). This increase was smaller than the change from Wave 1 (2006/08) to Wave 2 (2008/10) where the median rose from £25,300 to £35,000. The median private pension wealth in households excluding those with no such wealth was higher in 2010/12 than in 2008/10 and 2006/08 (£82,300 compared to £71,600 and £60,000, respectively).

In 2010/12, about 31% of households in Great Britain had wealth in current occupational DB pensions with a similar proportion having pensions in receipt. The median value of the latter (£117,800) was much larger than that of the former (£59,100) and the median values of all other pension types were lower than both.

Aggregate household private pension wealth

Table 6.12 presents a breakdown of aggregate private pension wealth of households in Great Britain by the overall components discussed in the previous sections.

Table 6.12

Breakdown of aggregate household private pension wealth, by components: Great Britain, 2006/08 - 2010/12

£ (Billion)
    Current pension wealth Retained pension wealth Pension in payment wealth Aggregate private pension wealth1
2006/08 - - - 2,886
2008/10 1,296 491 1,672 3,459
2010/12 1,438 461 1,687 3,586

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Current pension wealth comprises current occupational DB and DC pensions, and current personal pensions (including group personal/stakeholder pensions).
  2. Retained pension wealth comprises retained occupational DB pensions, retained DC (both occupational and personal) pensions and retained pensions for drawdown.
  3. Pension in payment wealth comprises private pensions from which individuals were receiving an income (including spouse pensions).
  4. Although the methodology for calculating current and retained DB pension wealth and pensions in payment has remained the same between the two waves, there have been changes in the financial assumptions. For more information see Chapter 7 of this release: Technical Details.
  5. Wave 1 data excluded as aggregate private pension wealth in Wave 1 does not equal the sum of current, retained and pension in payment wealth due to the presence of imputed values in the Wave 1 dataset for aggregate private pension wealth only.

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Table 6.12 shows that aggregate private pension wealth in Great Britain increased from £3.46 trillion in 2008/10 to £3.59 trillion in 2010/12. The increase is mainly explained by the increase in current pension wealth. In 2010/12 only 13% of the aggregate private pension wealth related to retained pension wealth with 47% due to pension in payment wealth and 40% due to current pension wealth. The equivalent percentages in 2008/10 were, respectively, 14%, 48% and 37% (these do not sum due to rounding).

Following the finding from Table 6.11, that 76% of households had some pension wealth in 2010/12, it is interesting to examine further the distribution of aggregate pension wealth among these 76 per cent. This is illustrated in Figure 6.13 below.

Figure 6.13 shows aggregate private pension wealth, for those households with some private pension wealth, broken down into deciles. These households are sorted in ascending order of aggregate private pension wealth and divided into deciles, each of which represents 10% of the households that have private pension wealth.

Figure 6.13: Breakdown of aggregate household private pension wealth for only those with any private pension wealth, by deciles: Great Britain, 2010/12

Figure 6.13: Breakdown of aggregate household private pension wealth for only those with any private pension wealth, by deciles: Great Britain, 2010/12
Source: Wealth and Assets Survey - Office for National Statistics

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In 2010/12, out of all households with private pension wealth, the decile with the highest aggregate had almost half (48%) of the aggregate pension wealth, while the five deciles with the lowest aggregates had less than a tenth of the aggregate pension wealth (8%). The total aggregate wealth of the top decile was £1,725 billion compared to less than £7 billion for the bottom decile.

The composition of aggregate pension wealth among households with any private pension wealth varied by decile, with pension in payment wealth making up an increasingly higher proportion as the deciles move from first towards tenth. The percentage contributions of the other two pension wealth types (current and retained) to total aggregate private pension wealth both fall as the deciles move in this direction. For households in the top decile in 2010/12, over half (53%) of private pension wealth was pension in payment wealth, 38% was current pension wealth and 9% was retained pension wealth.  The equivalent figures for households in the lowest decile were 21% pension in payment wealth, 53% current pension wealth and 27% retained pension wealth.

Distribution of private pension wealth by region

Table 6.14 includes information about the proportions of households with private pension wealth across the regions and nations of Great Britain and measures of the median wealth of the households in each area that have such wealth.

Table 6.14

Percentage of households with wealth in private pensions and amount of wealth (£) held in such pensions, by region: Great Britain, 2006/08 - 2010/12

£
          % with 1st quartile Median 3rd quartile
2006/08 England   73 18,100 60,200 171,900
     North East   69 17,000 60,000 176,200
   North West   71 16,500 56,500 164,400
     Yorkshire & the Humber   73 16,400 53,900 145,500
   East Midlands   75 17,000 59,700 162,500
     West Midlands   72 15,900 55,200 155,800
   East of England   77 20,000 64,800 179,900
     London   63 17,200 56,300 168,800
   South East   79 21,700 70,500 202,600
     South West   77 19,700 63,400 181,800
  Wales   71 17,100 58,500 162,900
    Scotland   71 18,100 59,100 170,600
         
2008/10 England   75 22,800 72,800 199,100
   North East   71 18,900 63,600 183,500
     North West   73 21,600 74,400 195,700
   Yorkshire & the Humber   76 20,500 59,400 182,500
     East Midlands   76 20,600 70,800 188,800
   West Midlands   73 20,500 69,900 185,600
     East of England   78 24,900 77,300 208,000
   London   68 20,900 65,500 186,500
     South East   81 28,500 88,600 240,900
   South West   77 24,900 76,200 196,700
    Wales   74 22,100 68,100 181,000
  Scotland   72 20,000 65,100 187,700
           
2010/12 England   76 25,000 82,900 229,500
     North East   71 20,300 67,000 210,900
     North West   74 23,500 79,500 220,800
     Yorkshire & the Humber   78 21,000 69,800 194,400
     East Midlands   75 23,300 79,200 248,000
     West Midlands   74 24,100 76,900 198,400
     East of England   78 29,200 88,900 233,500
     London   68 25,200 86,000 228,000
     South East   84 29,000 96,100 262,900
     South West   81 25,500 88,100 240,400
    Wales   76 23,300 81,900 210,900
    Scotland   74 24,000 71,100 223,700

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Excludes those with zero pension wealth.

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Table 6.14 shows that, in 2010/12, 76% of households in England had at least some private pension wealth, the same proportion as in Wales (76%) and slightly higher than Scotland (74%).  The median private pension wealth of these households in 2010/12 was higher in England (£82,900) than in Wales (£81,900) or Scotland (£71,100). The median in England was also higher than in the other two nations in both 2006/08 and 2008/10.

In each of the three periods, the region or nation with highest proportion of households with private pension wealth was the South East (84% in 2010/12), with the South West (81% in 2010/12), the East of England (78%) and, in 2010/12 only, Yorkshire and the Humber (78%) also ranked in the top three. In each period London had the lowest proportion of households with any private pension wealth (68% in 2010/12), followed by the North East (71% in 2010/12).

The South East and the East of England were the regions with the highest median household pension wealth in 2010/12 and in the earlier two periods as well. In all three periods Yorkshire and the Humber had the lowest median household pension wealth. In each period the household medians varied less between regions than between different pension types (see Table 6.11) and between household types (see Table 6.15).

Distribution of household private pension wealth by household type

Table 6.15 shows the distribution of household private pension wealth for different types of household, along with the proportion of households in each category with at least some private pension wealth.

Table 6.15

Percentage of households with wealth in private pensions and amount of wealth (£) held in such pensions, by household type: Great Britain, 2006/08 - 2010/12

£
    % with 1st quartile Median 3rd quartile
2006/08 Single HHold, over SPA 67 15,000 42,700 104,000
  Single HHold, under SPA 63 10,300 35,100 123,900
  Married/Cohabiting both over SPA, no children 86 41,500 103,200 224,100
  Married/Cohabiting both under SPA, no children 84 19,600 69,400 224,700
  Married/Cohabiting 1 over, 1 under SPA, no children 89 67,000 183,900 404,800
  Married/Cohabiting, dependent children 79 17,000 54,100 138,600
  Married/Cohabiting, non-dependent children only 88 42,700 121,700 285,200
  Lone parent, dependent children 41 5,000 16,000 55,300
  Lone parent, non-dependent children   62 12,300 42,000 123,700
  2 or more families/Other HHold type  55 16,400 52,800 170,900
           
2008/10 Single HHold, over SPA 67 18,900 54,300 122,600
  Single HHold, under SPA 66 14,100 43,600 140,000
  Married/Cohabiting both over SPA, no children 86 51,400 117,200 254,500
  Married/Cohabiting both under SPA, no children 85 21,800 77,700 268,000
  Married/Cohabiting 1 over, 1 under SPA, no children 89 92,500 234,200 505,200
  Married/Cohabiting, dependent children 80 20,600 61,000 160,000
  Married/Cohabiting, non-dependent children only 90 50,000 148,500 352,100
  Lone parent, dependent children 42 5,900 20,000 58,400
  Lone parent, non-dependent children   68 20,900 60,400 154,200
  2 or more families/Other HHold type  69 17,700 62,200 178,000
           
2010/12 Single HHold, over SPA 68 19,600 59,100 143,100
  Single HHold, under SPA 64 15,900 46,600 163,400
  Married/Cohabiting both over SPA, no children 88 53,100 138,600 303,500
  Married/Cohabiting both under SPA, no children 86 27,400 92,800 297,100
  Married/Cohabiting 1 over, 1 under SPA, no children 91 105,500 278,000 581,700
  Married/Cohabiting, dependent children 80 21,900 65,100 168,600
  Married/Cohabiting, non-dependent children only 91 68,100 170,000 388,500
  Lone parent, dependent children 45 7,800 23,700 68,400
  Lone parent, non-dependent children   73 19,200 66,100 155,700
  2 or more families/Other HHold type  68 18,000 68,300 205,800

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Excludes those with zero pension wealth.
  2. SPA = State Pension Age.

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As Table 6.15 shows, in 2010/12 the types of household with the highest proportions having wealth in private pensions were those with a married or cohabiting couple and no children or non-dependent children only. Between 86 and 91% of households in each of the four household types with these characteristics had some private pension wealth in 2010/12 and the percentages were similar in 2006/08 and 2008/10. In all three periods, the only household type where less than half of households had some pension wealth were those with a lone parent and one or more dependent children.

Excluding households with no private pension wealth, the highest median private pension wealth in all three periods was in households with couples with no children in which one individual was aged under and the other over the State Pension Age. Households with a lone parent and one or more dependent children had the lowest median private pension wealth in each period, with values in each case that were less than 10% of the highest median.

Background notes

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