Pension tracing service will expand to meet record demand

Elderly woman sits by the sea in SW France Image copyright AFP
Image caption Pension holders are being encouraged to recover their money in order to enjoy a better retirement

A free service which helps people locate pension pots they have lost track of will triple its number of staff to meet record numbers of enquiries.

The Pension Tracing Service will have its headcount tripled to 49 by April.

Last year, the service was contacted 145,000 times - double the number of contacts it dealt with in 2010.

It helps people to find providers of pensions they have lost contact with, often after switching jobs.

Estimates by the National Association of Pension Funds suggest that there could be as many as 50 million dormant and lost pension pots by 2050.

Pensions Minister Steve Webb said: "Whilst we have plans to help people combine their pension pots in future when they change jobs, there are still too many scattered and lost pensions.

"We are working hard to make sure people get what they are entitled to."

'Better position'

Jill Scott, operational manager at the PTS, pointed out that recovering this money can help people enter retirement "in a much better position".

"While it may sound strange, losing track of a pension is easily done, as people tend to move around the jobs market far more frequently than might have been the case in the past," she said.

From April pension holders will also be able to access the government's new "pension wise" service, which offers guidance to people over 55 about how they can make the most of the new pension freedoms which will come into force the same month.

Changes announced by George Osborne last year will mean that around 300,000 people a year will be able to access their defined contribution (DC) pension savings on demand, subject to their marginal tax rate in that year.

It replaces the current system in which people are directed towards a retirement annuity.

Concerns were raised earlier this month on Radio 4's Money Box that the new advice service will not have enough staff to deal with the demand expected when the new rules come into force in April.

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