Nucleus finds majority of UK adults sceptical about state pension future

by | Jun 5, 2024

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Nucleus Financial Platforms Group (Nucleus), has released new research today revealing that 71% of UK adults believe the state pension will not exist or will be less generous when they retire.

You can download a copy of their latest report here.

With a general election set for 4 July, the state pension is a topical issue again. As political parties vie to secure votes, discussions around the benefit have heated up.

Of the 2,100 people aged 18 and above who took part in Nucleus’ recent YouGov survey looking at retirement confidence levels:

  • Almost a quarter (24%) said they think the state pension will not exist in its current form.
  • A further 24% think it will be a lot less generous than it is today by the time they reach state pension age (SPA).
  • Meanwhile, 15% think the state pension will be a little less generous than the current level and 8% believe it will not exist at all.
  • Conversely, 6% said they think the state pension will be more generous than it is today. A further 5% are already receiving their state pension and 18% were unsure as to what its future might look like.

The state pension plays a key role in average income for existing pensioners, but Nucleus’ research shows future generations are realising they may not be able to count on it.

Overall women are more doubtful about whether the state pension will exist in years to come. Just over a quarter (26%) think it will not exist in its current form, while 9% believe it will be a thing of the past entirely. This compares with 21% and 7% respectively for men.

Fewer women (4%) think the state pension will be more generous than today, whereas 9% of men hold that view.


For people reaching SPA now, it will be age 66 for both men and women. For those born after 5 April 1960, there will be a phased increase to age 67 and eventually 68.

Those aged between 35 and 54 are most sceptical that the state pension will exist as it does now.

Andrew Tully, Technical Services Director at Nucleus, said: “These findings re-affirm the importance of having a plan for retirement. State pensions are the bedrock of people’s retirement income, but they are complex and the position is constantly changing. Over the past 10 years we have seen the introduction of the new state pension, increases to state pension age with more to come soon, and a constant debate around the future of the triple lock. It’s therefore no surprise that many have little confidence the state pension will be around in its current format, or exist at all, by the time they reach state pension age. Being unable to rely on the state pension makes planning even more vital.


“However, the constant change in pension legislation doesn’t support retirement planning. That’s why we’re a driving voice in the industry in the call for an independent, long-term savings commission. On such a crucial topic as retirement, we need cross-party consensus on the development of proposals for pension and savings policy, including how much the state pension should be and when it should be paid over the longer term. It would bring much-needed clarity and allow more people to plan for their retirement with confidence.”

Nucleus found that more than 20% of each age group believe the state pension will be a lot less generous than it is today, while the youngest cohort was the most unsure what way it could go.

All age groups were somewhat muted (between 5% and 8%) when it came to thinking the state pension will be more generous than it is today.


Respondents aged 35 to 44 were the most vocal (13%) about the prospect of the state pension disappearing altogether. This was followed by those aged 45 to 54 (11%). Only 2% of those aged 55 and over thought that would be the case, while 5% of those aged 18 to 24 and 9% aged 25 to 34 agreed.

Nucleus’ findings support the fact that – understandably, those with a longer time horizon until they retire may have concerns about their financial future.

Last year, Nucleus launched its inaugural UK Retirement Confidence Index and found overall adults aged 50 and over had a confidence score of 6.9. Six months on it followed up with this latest survey, this time broadening the age range to those 18 and above.


Based on responses to the same central question of how confident people feel about having enough money to live on for the rest of their lives, the updated results reveal an overall confidence score of 4.4 out of 10 – down 36%.

The most recent results show a significant gap in confidence levels between younger ages and those aged 55+ (the most confident with a score of 5.3).

Perhaps surprisingly, the youngest age group (18 to 24) was the next most confident at 4.6. However, those aged 25 to 54 had an average score of 3.5.


There was also a difference between men (4.8) and women (4).

Nucleus will be releasing the next UK Retirement Confidence Index in November 2024.

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