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<p>Fewer than half of Northern Ireland consumers have pension provision in place and half have little or no knowledge of pension issues.</p>

The General Consumer Council has highlighted these worrying statistics as the Government Commission reports today on the problems facing UK pensions.

The Consumer Council's key findings show that:

·        Only 39 per cent of people here said that they had pension provision in place for their retirement.

·        Half of Northern Ireland consumers have little or no knowledge about pension issues.  Levels of knowledge are worst among younger adults and poorer consumers.

·        Twenty per cent have no savings. Only four out of ten people (41 per cent) have savings equal to one month's income or less. 

Alan Walker, Head of Consumer Affairs at the Consumer Council said:

“With an ageing population, Northern Ireland consumers need to more aware of their own retirement provision and not rely on the basic state pension to support them in the future. In 2003, the basic state pension was only worth 15 per cent of the average annual UK income and this is expected to fall to 5 per cent over the next 50 years”[1].   

Pension Provision

Only four out of ten (39 per cent) of consumers have pension provision in place.  Among the youngest age group (16-24), only 8 per cent have a pension.  However, in the age group closest to retirement (50-64), fewer than half (48 per cent) said that they had a pension in place.  Poorer consumers are less likely to have pension provision in place than those who are better off.  Only 15 per cent of the DE social group have a pension in place compared with 71 per cent of ABC1 group.

Knowledge of pension issues

Recent Consumer Council research showed that 48 per cent of local consumers had little or no knowledge about pensions.  A further 23 per cent said that their knowledge was patchy.  Only 29 per cent said their knowledge was either good or reasonable. 

Younger consumers have the least knowledge with three quarters (77 per cent) of 16-24 year olds having little or no knowledge.  However, even in the age group 50-64, more than 1 in 3 (39 per cent) have limited or no knowledge of pension issues with a further 24 per cent claiming to have patchy knowledge. 

Respondents from socio-economic group DE (68 per cent) were twice as likely to know little or nothing about pension issues as those from socio-economic group ABC1 (31 per cent).


When asked about saving habits, just over a quarter (28 per cent) of local consumers said that they saved regularly.  Lower income groups were least likely to save with only 17 per cent of DE saving regularly

When asked about what savings they had, one fifth (20 per cent) said they had nosavings; thirteen per cent stated they had less than one month's income and 8 per cent said they had around one month's income.  However, in socio-economic group DE, 32 per cent had no savings. A further 26 per cent have a month's income or less.

Alan Walker added:

“As this debate continues we need the Government to be clear about the issues and provide security for the future for those with concerns.  We also need appropriate regulation in the private sector markets to help restore public confidence in private pension products.  Consumers also need to consider their future and how they can plan for a happy retirement, free from money problems.”

The General Consumer Council will carry out more analysis of how this will impact on Northern Ireland consumers as the Pension's Commission consults ahead of its final report in Autumn 2005.  This will help to ensure that any issues affecting Northern Ireland are highlighted and considered by the Commission before it produces its final proposals.


  1. General Consumer Council media contact: Susie Brown, telephone, 028 9067 4807 or e-mail,
  2. The General Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland's consumers. The Council campaigns for high standards of service and protection and a fair deal for all. It also carries out research, gives advice and publishes reports and other publications. It deals with individual complaints about electricity, natural gas, coal and passenger transport.

For more information, visit our website at

[1] Government Actuary Department