Many young people in the UK believe their retirement will be better than their parents - so long as they can afford it

  • New research from FSCS shows that future retirees, in particular young people in the UK aged 18-24, are optimistic they could have a better retirement than their parents but worry about how they will afford it.
  • In addition, all consumers under 65 expect some aspects of retirement to be better – such as their quality of lifestyle, health and ability to travel – but economic headwinds such as rising costs of living are creating concerns that money will not go far enough in retirement.
  • With the squeeze on real incomes unlikely to ease for some time, it’s more important than ever that consumers make well-informed financial decisions to safeguard their future retirement.

London – New research released by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) reveals that working age people today believe their retirement will be better than that of their parents’, despite several causes for concern.[1]

Younger people are most optimistic with 44% of 18–24-year-olds thinking their retirement will be better, compared with only 24% who believe it will be worse; 35–44-year-olds are the least optimistic with only 30% believing retirement will be better than their parents’, compared with 35% who believe it will be worse.

Differences are even more marked among those who plan to retire before state pension age, with over half (51%) believing their retirement will be better.

Quality of lifestyle, health (both physical and mental) and the ability to travel are all areas where people believe things will be better than that of their parents’ generation.[2] However, respondents demonstrated concern around how they will fund their retirement lifestyle, highlighting a mismatch between expectations for retirement and the reality of how people can pay for it.

Four in ten (40%) future retirees think their ability to fund their retirement will be worse compared to their parents’ generation, while almost half (48%) think the possibility of retiring earlier will also be worse. There is even less optimism among those who expect to still be renting in retirement, with over half (52%) thinking their ability to fund their retirement will be worse.

Economic headwinds, such as the rising cost of living[3] and housing costs[4]  are among key reasons making people concerned that their money will not go far enough in retirement. Over half of UK adults (56%) worry that their standard of living will drop during retirement, and almost half (47%) worry about how they will cover their housing costs past retirement age. For those who plan to continue working past state pension age, almost half (49%) cite inability to afford retirement as the reason to continue working.

Despite these concerns, there still seems to be low levels of awareness around the complexities of planning for retirement.  When asked about saving for retirement, a quarter (25%) of UK working adults aged 18-65 said a lack of understanding of pensions/saving products was a concern while just over one in five (21%) feared not having access to compensation if things go wrong with their provider. Unsurprisingly, only 37% agree they feel confident about planning for their retirement.

Lila Pleban, Chief Communications Officer at FSCS, said: “It’s encouraging to see the optimism in future UK retirees, but it’s unsurprising that many are also concerned when it comes to their ability to fund their retirement dreams. The UK’s current economic climate, including the rising cost of living and housing costs, is a source of concern for those making any major financial decision. And with retirement a particularly emotive milestone and one that everyone wants to get right, it is understandable these pressures, and concerns money will not go far enough, are front of mind when thinking about their future.

“It’s clear from our research that those thinking about or approaching retirement must have access to the knowledge and tools they need so they can choose their products wisely as they try to bridge the gap between the retirement they expect and their concerns about how they will fund it.

“Whatever products consumers choose to fund their retirement, we encourage them to check that their money is FSCS-protected and safeguarded if things go wrong. We often see claims where customers have lost money in their pensions and witness the harm that occurs, especially if losses come at a time when people are less able to recoup their money, for example, when they have already retired or are close to retirement. That’s why at FSCS we are committed to helping to empower and educate consumers, so they feel confident and well-informed about the decisions they make when it comes to their money.”

FSCS offers free protection checker tools on its website to help people understand if their money is FSCS protected when planning for retirement. FSCS also encourages consumers to access free and impartial guidance online from services such as MoneyHelper. Consumers may also consider consulting a regulated financial advisor to understand the options available to them.

Read the full report: Attitudes towards the Retirement of Tomorrow 

For highlights from the research view our Retirement of Tomorrow infographic

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[1] This is by a small margin (35% to 30%), with 34% who either do not know or believe there will be no difference.

[2] 44% of future retirees think they will have more opportunities to enjoy themselves in retirement vs. 26% who think things will be worse. Over four in ten (42%) think their physical health will be better vs. 20% who think it will be worse. 41% are more optimistic about their ability to travel or go on holiday during retirement vs. only 26% who think it will be worse.

[3] According to the data, 69% of working age adults who were not retired saw the rising cost of living as a concern.

[4] According to the data, 47% of working age adults who are not retired saw housing costs as a concern.


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About the research

Ipsos conducted the survey on behalf of FSCS, interviewing a representative quota sample of 2,013 UK adults aged between 18–65 who are not retired.

Survey data was weighted to the known profile of this audience. The research was conducted between the 28 July 2023 and 1 August 2023.

FSCS regularly conducts exclusive consumer research exploring attitudes and behaviours towards financial services and FSCS protection. The findings from this research and further information about our consumer research can be found on our website. Read the full report and sign up for future updates here: