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Half of UK workers aged 40-64 won’t have enough money to retire when they reach their State Pension Age

By: Age UK
Published on 26 October 2017 11:01 PM

Age UK calls for 'career MOT at 50' for all to help people adjust future plans & pension savings.

Half (50%) of all workers aged 40-64[i] – nearly eight million people[ii] – do not expect to have enough money to stop work and retire when they reach their State Pension Age[iii], according to new YouGov research for the Charity Age UK.

Published today to launch Age UK's new public policy paper 'Creating a career MOT at 50',[iv] the new research highlights the difficulties facing many workers who cannot afford to down tools when they become eligible for their State Pension. The Charity is calling for government action to help people plan their later working lives and explore how they can put enough money aside for the future while there's still time to make a difference.

While a third (35%) of those surveyed expect to be working the same hours in their current job in their late 60s, a quarter (25%) expect to be working fewer hours in their current job, and just over a fifth (21%) do not expect to be working in their current job at all by this point.[v]

Of all those who expect to stop working or to reduce their hours before their late 60s, just under a quarter (23%) cited poor health as the likely reason, while over a quarter (28%) felt their job would be too physically demanding at that stage. Only 17% of those who expect to stop working said that this is because they would be financially secure enough to give up their job.[vi]

Having a career MOT at the age of 50 appealed to around half (51%) of those surveyed, increasing to 60% for those aged 40-44[vii] – prompting Age UK to call for a review of this kind to be mainstreamed so it becomes a new social norm. Successful government-sponsored pilots took place in 2013-15[viii] and the Charity believes the career MOT should now be offered to everyone at age 50, so that people have time to make plans and put them into action in order to create the smoothest possible transition to retiring.

Alongside in-depth career and retirement planning advice, the new research also highlights that many people are also keen to receive guidance on how they can boost their savings. In fact, among all those surveyed, consideration of their pension/ savings provision topped the wish-list of things to include in the MOT. In order of preference the MOT wish-list included[ix]:

  • A consideration of their pension/ savings provision to help them save enough for their retirement – 48%
  • A discussion about what job(s) they might want to do for the rest of their working lives – 44%
  • An assessment of their transferable skills and experience – 44%
  • A discussion about when and how they envisage retiring – 40%
  • The impact of their health on future working prospects – 38%
  • Identifying any skills they may need in the future and options for training – 37%
  • A discussion about different types of flexible working and how to raise that with their employer – 35%

With the State Pension Age continuing to rise over the coming decades Age UK is warning that many people will have no choice but to work longer, thus making the case for a career MOT at age 50 since this would provide everyone with the chance to take stock and make adjustments if required. The Charity's new report explores why a career MOT at 50 for all is needed and looks at a variety of potential delivery models, including the National Careers Service, current employers and pension schemes among others.

The report also sets out a series of next steps and recommendations for the Government such as the following. [The Government should...]

  • Commit to creating an MOT at 50 for all, and extend the Mid-Life Career Review pilots to this end
  • Link this initiative closely with the Government's Fuller Working Lives (FWL) strategy.[x]
  • Ensure the Pensions Dashboard – an online service being developed by HM Treasury and the pensions industry[xi]– plays a useful role within the career MOT at age 50, helping people to gain a better understanding of their retirement finances and options.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: "Our research shows that millions of people across the country will need to continue working in some capacity past their State Pension Age. Some will want to and others won't, but however people feel about it there is a lot to be said for taking stock at age 50, while there is still time to make changes to how the rest of your working life and your transition to retirement are shaping up.

"We are pleased that our survey found that many people agree with us and that they would welcome the opportunities a career MOT at 50 would offer them to think constructively about the future; something it is all too easy to keep putting off because of how incredibly busy most people in midlife are.

"With the State Pension Age continuing to rise, and people inevitably having to work longer, there is a growing need for everyone to make informed choices about training options, pension provision and future career options, in order to make a successful transition to the retirement they aspire to. For these reasons a Career MOT at age 50 could make a really positive difference to the rest of many people's lives.

"Clearly if people are to re-train through formal or semi-formal education, their review needs to take place while they still have time left in their working lives to do it, gain from it and settle into a new role. We want the Government to commit to extending its current pilots with a view to creating a Career MOT at 50 for all because we judge that this is the right age for such a review to take place."

The Charity publishes a number of free guides to help people plan for their retirement. To order a free copy of any of Age UK's guides, or for further information and advice on any issue, people can call Age UK Advice free of charge on 0800 169 65 65, contact their local Age UK, or visit where there is also an online pensions calculator to help people see how much money they should be saving for their retirement.


Ref: lfcbjvsk

Notes to editors
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2112 adults, of whom 930 were aged 40 to 64. Fieldwork was undertaken between 21st - 22nd September 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

[i] YouGov/ Age UK research as above.

[ii] Age UK calculation based on figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing there are 15,923,052 people aged 40-64 in employment in the UK (April-June 2017). 50% of that number is 7,961,526 (nearly eight million). Source: ONS Labour Force Survey, April - June 2017.

[iii] The State Pension Age (SPA) in the UK is currently 65 but is increasing next year to 66 and the Government intends to raise it to 68 by 2039 for both men and women, affecting people born on or after 6 April 1970. When you reach state pension age you can withdraw your state pension. This is provided by the Government and is currently worth around £8,000 a year.

[iv] Age UK’s new public policy paper ‘Creating a career MOT at 50’ can be downloaded free of charge from

[v] YouGov/ Age UK research as above.

[vi] Ibid

[vii] Ibid

[viii] Mid-Life Career Review, pilot project outcomes phases 1, 2 and 3 (2013-2015), NIACE 2015:

[ix] YouGov/ Age UK research as above.



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Last updated: Oct 26 2017

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