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A quarter of adults have lost a pension pot, says survey

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If the pension crisis wasn’t bad enough with millions facing penury in retirement, a new survey published today shows that almost a quarter of adults have actually lost a pension pot.

Age UK has issued a warning about the growing pension black hole resulting from shifting working patterns and confusion around retirement planning.

With the idea of long-term jobs disappearing, young workers aged between 25 and 34 have had as many employers as those aged 65 or older.

And if you’ve already worked for six different companies by your mid-30s, it’s hardly surprising that you may have lost contact with a previous pension plan.

In fact people work for an average 11 employers over the course of their working lives, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Lucy Harmer of Age UK, said: “With the number of jobs we have over a lifetime increasing, it’s likely that people will accumulate several small pension pots. Organising paperwork and keeping details secure is especially crucial for pensions as it may be some years down the line until they need to be accessed.”

However, the charity’s research suggests that nearly half of all missing pensions - 47 per cent - are simply “lost in the mists of time”.

One in 10 people say the fact that they’ve moved jobs too many times has made it impossible to keep track of their pensions while one in five admits to having lost their pension paperwork.

But a lost pension pot doesn’t have to be a disaster. Your details should still be recorded by pension trustees and it’s often simply a question of tracking down old pension schemes and informing them of your current situation and any changed circumstances – if at all – to ensure you are reunited with your lost fund.

With prospects of a prosperous retirement for most of us shrinking fast, assessing how much you have already in various pensions pots is crucial when planning how much you need to save now. “People need to seriously think about planning for retirement and the kind of lifestyle they want, and having up-to-date records of any previous pension savings is important in that,” said Lucy Harmer.

How to track down a lost pension pot

There’s a government section called the Pension Tracing Service that’s part of the Department for Work and Pensions. It holds records of all pensions -  it has a database of some 200,000 different occupational and personal schemes - and can help put you back in touch with lost retirement pots.

However it will need some basic details to track down your records – the more you can supply, the higher chance there is of being successful. Start by racking your memory of the names of companies you worked for and whether you contributed to a pension scheme. If you can supply an address, all the better.

You’ll also need your national insurance number, and records of different addresses you have lived at while working. That’s especially crucial if you had an old personal pension.

If you can dig out any old documents relating to a pension, the Service will be able to tell you its up-to-date contact details.

Go online to www.gov.uk/find-lost-pension or call the service on 0845 6002 537.  You can also write with all your details to Pension Tracing Service, Tyneview Park, Whitley Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE98 1BA.