1/5 of retired couples are ‘pensioner millionaires’ whilst the gap to the poorest widens

  • Couples in the top pensioner income band have an average weekly income of £988. This would cost £1,152,250 to buy through an annuity, making them ‘pensioner millionaires’.
  • The average weekly income for the wealthiest pensioner couples has grown faster over the last 10 years than for the poorest pensioner couples, widening the income gap between the two groups.

Analysis of government figures* by pension and investment firm Aegon has found there are 840,000 retired couples in the UK who have a weekly income which would cost more than  £1.15 million if bought as an annuity. However, as the average income of the wealthiest pensioner couples rises, the gap to those at the bottom end of the income scale widens.

The richest 20% of pensioners, equivalent to 840,000 couples, now have an average net income (after income tax, NI and council tax) of £988 per week or an annual income of £51,376**. These government figures include all sources of pensioners’ income such as pensions, investments, earnings and benefit income.

In order to replicate a weekly income of £988 from savings alone, a couple retiring today at age 65 would need to have a shared pot worth £1,152,250***.

The analysis also highlights that the income gap between the richest and poorest pensioner couples has increased over the last ten years. The richest have seen their incomes increase by 15% over the last ten years from £858 to £988, while the poorest have seen a lower 14% increase from £234 to £267 for the same period. This means the current difference between the income of the top and bottom 20% of pensioner couples has risen by almost £100 from £624 to £721 per week****.

Steven Cameron, Pensions Director at Aegon, comments:

“Over the last ten years, pensioner couples in the highest income distribution band have seen their average weekly income increase by 15% to £988. A weekly income of this size would cost £1,152,250 to buy through an annuity which means this large proportion of retired couples can legitimately consider themselves ‘pensioner millionaires’.

“In fact while many people may assume their house is their most valuable asset, for many it could actually be their pension.

“However, whilst the top fifth of pensioner couples have seen their income rise to £988 per week, the figures show the bottom fifth have an average weekly income over £700 less at just £267 per week per couple, or £134 per individual, which is substantially under the full rate of the new state pension, currently £168.60 per week. Many of these pensioners may have reached state pension age before 5 April 2016 and be receiving the ‘old’ state pension or have had insufficient National Insurance records to qualify for the full rate.”

 

Definitions

Pensioner couples are married or cohabiting pensioners where one or both are over state pension age.

Average income used for calculation is the Median number. Average net income figures used are Before Housing (BHC).

Data for 2005/06 to 2007/08 is based on the average of three years of results from 2005/06, 2006/07 and 2007/08, uprated 2017/18 prices. Data for 2015/16 to 2017/18 is based on the average of three years of results from 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18, uprated to 2017/18 prices.

 

References

*GOV.UK, Pensioners’ income series: financial year 2017 to 2018

**Data Tables: Pensioners’ income series 1994/95 to 2017/18 (Table 4.1, Pensioner couples, Net income before housing costs)

***According to the Money Advice Service best buy tables, a pot of £1,152,250, is required to create a weekly income of £988. This is based on buying an annuity at age 65 payable monthly in advance and continuing to a surviving partner at half the level, with no increases in payment. The annuity rate used is the average of that offered by the three most competitive annuity providers from the Money Advice Service annuity rate tables on 13 June 2019 for a couple both aged 65, in good health and living in London (SW1H 9NA).

An income of £988 increasing in line with inflation (RPI) would cost around £2,375,800 on the same basis as above.

****Data Tables: Pensioners’ income series 1994/95 to 2017/18 (Table 4.1, Pensioner couples, Net income before housing costs, % growth between 2005/06 to 2007/08 and 2015/16 to 2017/18)

 

Notes to Editors

  • In the UK, Aegon offers retirement, workplace savings and protection solutions to well over three million customers and employs approximately 3,450 staff. More information: aegon.co.uk
  • As an international life insurance, pensions and asset management group based in The Hague, Aegon has businesses in over twenty five markets in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Aegon companies employ over 28,000 people and have millions of customers across the globe. Further information: aegon.com

*Figures correct as of January 2019

Aegon is a brand name of Scottish Equitable plc. Scottish Equitable plc, registered office: Edinburgh Park, Edinburgh EH12 9SE. Registered in Scotland (No. 144517). Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Financial Services Register number 165548. An Aegon company. www.aegon.co.uk                                                                        

© 2019 Aegon UK plc.