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Pensioners are £4,000 better off than working age families

Written by: Matthew Browning
Working age families have a £3,924 gap in disposable income compared to if their earnings had kept pace with the rise in pensioner pay since 1999, research reveals.

Pensioner couples have an average of £27,144 in disposable income after housing costs are met, up from £16,588 in 1999. This is a 64% increase, according to Interactive Investor’s analysis of government data.

Couples with children have seen a lower 41% increase in disposable income from £17,524 in 1999 to £24,752 in 2022.

According to the investment platform, if income for working households had risen at the same rate from 1999 to 2022, families would have £28,676 in disposable cash after rent or mortgage, insurance and other bill payments for the home were paid for.

And it’s all down to the pension triple lock which has pushed retirees’ income higher as it guarantees to raise their income by:

  • Average earnings growth between May and July (total pay including bonuses)
  • Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation in the year to September, published in October by the Office for National Statistics
  • Or 2.5%

Alice Guy, head of pensions and savings at Interactive Investor, said: “Rising pensioner incomes have been a success story of the last twenty years as the triple lock and rising private pension wealth, dragged pensioner incomes up by their bootstraps.

“The triple lock was introduced in 2011, to deliberately accelerate state pension growth above wage rises, pegging increases to the higher of wage growth, inflation and 2.5%. Unexpectedly, it was actually the 2.5% rule which boosted the state pension the most as inflation frequently dropped below 2.5% during the noughties.

“But incomes for families have risen a lot more slowly since 1999, with wage rises hitting the slow lane after the 2008 financial crash. Wage rises since that point have been negligible in real terms, so millions of families feel no better off than 15 years ago.”

Guy added: “Working age couples with kids are now worse off on average, after housing costs than pensioner couples, often finding themselves less able to save and more exposed to financial shocks like the cost-of-living crisis. It’s important to remember though that single pensioners are usually a lot less well off than pensioner couples and there are still millions of pensioners with no private pension wealth who rely solely on the state pension.”

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