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UK pension saving hits 'all-time low'

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The number of people saving for retirement has hit an "all-time low", according to the annual Scottish Widows Pensions report, published today.

The report found only half of those who could and should be "preparing financially" for their old age, are currently saving enough.

One in five UK workers are saving nothing at all for their retirement and more than a third are "under-saving", the study of 5,200 UK workers revealed.

The report revealed savers are being hit with a "triple whammy" of a weak economy, later first-time home buyers and an ageing population.

Despite UK pension provision falling to a lower level now than at the height of the recession (adequate provision stood at 54% in 2009) the nations aspirations for their retirement income have actually increased by £700 from 2012 to 2013.

The findings show the average level of annual income people would feel comfortable living on at 70 years old is now £25,200 (from £24,500 in 2012).

But based on this year's average savings levels, someone retiring at 65 could receive less than half that amount.

Pensions expert at Scottish Widows, Ian Naismith, said: "We are being hit with a triple-whammy of firstly, continued economic uncertainty making it difficult to save for the long-term; secondly the age of first-time buyers rising as we face troubles getting on the property ladder and thirdly an ageing population."

He added: "These factors combined create a perfect storm for those heading towards retirement. Whilst we are becoming more aware of the need to save for retirement, we must do more to ensure that we have a comfortable old age."

The research found we are entering retirement with an increasing amount of credit commitments, including loans, mortgages and credit card debt. Almost 5.3 million (24%) people in the UK aged over 50 have a mortgage, more than one in four (25%) have credit card debt and one in 10 (8%) have an unsecured loan.

Out of those who are already retired, a third (32%) are still paying off debts and excluding mortgage debt, the average amount owed is £5,682.

"While starting saving as soon as possible is highly desirable, and increasing contributions as retirement approaches is almost essential, the biggest single difference can come from postponing retirement," Naismith said.

He added: "The issue is whether a nation that aspires to stop working at 62 and have an annual income of £25,200 can accept this change."