Lockdown restrictions lead to pensions boost

16 Nov 2020
Couple check their finances on a laptop

2020 has been a year that many of us would rather forget, and the pandemic has put a hole in many people's finances. But for those lucky enough to be able to carry on working, the restrictions on going out have meant fewer opportunities to spend money. And some people, particularly those in their thirties and forties, have chosen to boost their pension contributions instead.

That's according to research by investment platform Interactive Investor, which found that between January and October 2020 there was a 34.7% rise in the average value of Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) contributions among 30 to 39-year olds compared to the same period last year.

For those aged 40 to 49 the rise in the average value of contributions was 18.3%, while for 50 to 55-year olds there was a smaller increase, at 6.8%.

In contrast, the youngest and oldest age groups contributed slightly less this year, with a fall in average contributions of 0.3% for those aged 18 to 29 and 3.6% for those aged 56 to 65.

An analysis published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in July showed that more than one-fifth of usual household spending was not possible during the lockdown.

In the financial year ending March 2019, UK households spent an average of £182 per week on activities such as travel, meals out and holidays that were largely prevented under Covid-19 restrictions. That's equivalent to 22% of a usual weekly budget of £831.

Interactive Investor estimates that households in England will save an average of £748.70 over the course of the month-long lockdown which is due to end in early December, with the biggest savings to be made from travelling less and not eating out.

As well as making longer term investments in their pensions, people have been keeping more money in the bank, particularly in instant access deposit accounts.

Bank of England Money and Credit data cited by Interactive Investor showed a large rise in savings deposits during the second quarter, April to June, when lockdown measures were at their toughest.

The savings ratio -- the amount saved as a percentage of income -- reflected this, rising to 29.1%. That's more than four times the pre-pandemic level.

While instant access savings are essential to provide a cash buffer, savers should only keep what they need in instant access in these low interest accounts, and consider investing money that they don't need to hand for the long term, Interactive Investor said.

Becky O'Connor, head of Pensions & Savings, explained: "Having emergency savings can give peace of mind that you can survive for a while should the worst happen and you lose your job, or you suddenly need to shell out for something big.

"How much cash to keep in instant access savings will depend on personal preference, although three to six months is a good aim.

"But people should take care that over the long term they do not unnecessarily lose money, in real terms, by keeping all their assets in cash."

At Fidelius our advisers offer expertise in investment management and retirement planning, helping you make the most of your savings for the medium and long term. Contact us today to find out more!