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Over a million UK workers don't plan on retiring

  • 1m workers think they will work beyond their state pension age
  • 22% are unsure how long their retirement savings will last
  • One in 10 are prepared for retirement but say their cost of living too high


Over a million UK workers (6%) believe that they will never retire, research from Canada Life1 today reveals. While 17.1m working adults (44%) think they will work beyond their state pension age, down 2.7m from 51% in 2020. 


The biggest concern that UK adults have when thinking about working beyond the state pension age is being unable to enjoy their older age (34%). A third (33%) are worried their health will deteriorate because they need to keep working, while over a quarter (27%) either need to or want to work, but are worried their health will make it difficult to do so. Nearly one in four people (23%) wish to continue working because they enjoy the routine, while one in five (21%) say they enjoy their job and want to continue working.


Of those people expecting to work beyond their state pension age, 43% think that their pension will not be enough to retire fully. They suspect they will need to continue earning money and believe that this is a big reason for postponing retirement. A quarter (22%) will continue to work as they are unsure how long their retirement savings will last, while 10% think they are prepared but say their current lifestyle means it’s too expensive for them to retire.


Andrew Tully, technical director at Canada Life commented:

“Despite over a million people thinking they will never retire, there is a considerable drop in the number of people thinking they will work beyond their state pension age. Understandably the pandemic has had a drastic impact on this, with many people re-evaluating how they want to live and what they want to do in later life.


“Digging beneath the surface, there are a variety of reasons for working beyond state pension age, or not retiring at all. For some people the social side of work would be missed, but for others, financial considerations are a key driver. As an industry, we need to find ways of encouraging better engagement in long-term financial planning as a way to ensure that people are confident that they are building sufficient savings for retirement.


”Auto-enrolment has been an unqualified success but we need to think about how we encourage greater levels of saving, perhaps by introducing auto-escalation at the point of pay reviews. For example, the employee receives a pay rise and automatically a percentage of that goes into the pension as additional savings. Consideration should also be given to extending auto enrolment to workers who don’t currently get picked up, including low earners and the self-employed as soon as possible. This would help level up the pensions playing field.” 



  1. Source: Research carried out by Opinium among 2000 UK adults between 10-14 September 2021. The 2m number is calculated as 6% of the adult population of 32.4m people in the UK.