Why retirees need to consider the effect of inflation on their long-term income
Updated: Mar 27
As you may know, inflation (or the “cost of living”) has been rising at a faster pace than usual. If you’re retired, the effect of inflation can be more pronounced and it’s important to understand how it could affect your lifestyle now and in the future.
The Bank of England (BoE) aims to keep inflation at 2% a year. However, according to the Office for National Statistics, the rate of inflation in the 12 months to February 2022 was 6.2%. While the effect of inflation can seem small day-to-day, it adds up.
Why inflation is important if you’re a retiree
If you’ve already retired, inflation can affect your lifestyle more than if you were still working. This may be because your income is static rather than rising with inflation. You may also need to consider how you will use your assets over your retirement. Taking more now to ensure your income rises in line with inflation could mean you face a shortfall in the future.
In addition, energy and food are two of the areas that inflation has affected the most.
Traditionally, pensioners have spent a larger part of their income on these two expenditures than workers. So, rising inflation could affect your expenses more than you expect.
While the State Pension will rise in the new tax year in April, it won’t rise at the same pace as inflation. For the 2022/23 tax year, the State Pension will increase by 3.1%. This is because it will rise by the rate of inflation as measured in September 2021.
According to the Centre for Economics and Business Research, the gap between the State Pension increase and the current pace of inflation will mean pensioners are £169 a year worse off in real terms.
So, if you’re retired, what can you do about inflation?
5 things retirees should do to manage the effects of inflation
1. Review your income needs
Looking at how your expenses have changed over the last few months can help you create a realistic budget. Does your current income still allow you to live the same lifestyle, or have you had to make adjustments? Looking at which outgoings have increased can help you see if you need to make any changes.
2. Check your reliable sources of income
As part of your retirement income, you may have some sources that provide a reliable income. You should review these and check if they’ll increase in line with inflation in the new tax year.
As mentioned above, the State Pension will rise but not at the same pace as inflation. You may also have a defined benefit (DB) pension, which pays a guaranteed income throughout retirement. A DB pension will often increase at the same pace as inflation, providing you with some financial security even as the cost of living rises.
If you had a defined contribution (DC) pension, you may have chosen to purchase an annuity that will pay an income for the rest of your life. When purchasing an annuity, you can choose whether the income will increase in line with inflation.
3. Assess investment performance if you’re using flexi-access drawdown
If you have a DC pension, an alternative to an annuity is flexi-access drawdown. This option allows you to take a flexible income, with the rest of your pension usually remaining invested. As a result, the remainder of your pension may increase to keep pace with inflation depending on how the investments perform.
In addition to investments held in a pension, you may also have a separate investment portfolio that could deliver growth that matches or exceeds inflation.
Investing can provide you with a chance to grow your wealth, but you should keep in mind that returns cannot be guaranteed.
4. Review your cash savings
Some cash savings are important as they can provide a valuable safety net if you face an unexpected expense. However, as inflation is likely higher than the interest rate you are earning on your cash savings, the value of your savings could be falling in real terms.
In some cases, moving the money to a different account or investing a portion of the savings can help you reduce the effects of inflation on your wealth, although you will lose the capital security of your deposit holdings. Investments carry risk.
5. Arrange a meeting with your financial planner
If you’d like help in understanding how inflation is affecting your income now, and the effect it could have in the future, a meeting with a financial planner can help. Please contact us to discuss your income needs and what you can do to protect against the effect of inflation.
Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.
A pension is a long-term investment not normally accessible until 55 (57 from April 2028). The fund value may fluctuate and can go down, which would have an impact on the level of pension benefits available. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.
The tax implications of pension withdrawals will be based on your individual circumstances. Thresholds, percentage rates and tax legislation may change in subsequent Finance Acts.