Cost of living mom fears raising her retirement age by 20 years

A concerned businesswoman and mother believes she will have to work almost 30 years longer than she hoped because of the UK's financial problems and lack of education about pensions.

Self-employed Madeleine Cole, 35, fears she could become "a pretty poor old lady" as her mortgage repayments have doubled and living costs, including fees for her children's private education, have skyrocketed.

Covid had already hit one of their businesses, and the expected recession is expected to lower their value ahead of potential sales.

The problems mean she can no longer put as much money into her pension as she had hoped.

Their concern comes as a new pension report highlights inequalities experienced by many during their working lives.

Research shows those most vulnerable to underprovision include single mothers, carers, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities and the self-employed. Madeleine, who runs an advertising business and an exhibition company, falls into the latter group.

She had hoped to retire early at about 40, but says it is now likely that she will have to continue working until her late 60s. The entrepreneur has paid in and out of pension contributions over the years, having had three children, and says a lack of education on pensions for young people has hindered her and others in the UK.

Madeleine, who lives near Horsham, West Sussex, told Express last "The recession can affect the value of my businesses when it comes to selling them, especially events that have been affected by it pandemic, of course, anyway. We can not even retire without selling them because we do not get enough pensions.

"It's (Madeleine's plans) ambitious, but I'm ambitious. Life is a treadmill."

Madeleine Cole has voiced her concerns about the pension system (Image: Co-delivered)

Only recently have I discovered that I am actually taking a pretty high risk of eventually becoming a pretty poor old lady.
It was really thought and now I want to try to catch up with my pension, but with the cost of living crisis things have changed.

Madeleine Kohl

The mother continued, "I think any woman who has had a baby is in a vulnerable position when it comes to a pension.

"I also think, quite honestly, that every woman who has entered the workforce, men to some degree, but women in particular, have a lack of education about what pensions really are, and in fact the amount of time you have to set aside for your retirement is when you have financial independence with a relatively decent income and relatively low expenses.

"I missed that stage in my life because I wasn't really aware of what a pension was for or how important it was. Since then I have three children, so I had three gaps in my career where I invested less in a pension because I had less income.

"I'm probably a bit of an anomaly because I'm a small business owner and my plan is to sell a business for a decent amount of money and then use that as my retirement savings or invest it in property or change what I am doing.

"I had always hoped to retire fairly early, but if I look and don't sell a business, I will work until I am in my late 60s. I did the sums to figure out what I am would need to retire and I would need to sell a business for millions.

"I wanted to retire at 40. It all very much depends on projects we are doing at the moment, but if we can't sell, I will be looking at the late 60s. I think the days of selling a business for a few million and then retiring are long gone.For me, it's really 50/50 because a business is in fairs and it all depends on the situation, like pandemics and so on.

"I just recently realized that I'm actually taking a pretty high risk of becoming a pretty poor old lady. It really got me thinking and now I want to try to catch up with my pension, but with the cost of living crisis Things have changed. For example, our mortgage has doubled. I was hoping to have this paid off by 40 or so.

The NOW: pensions report shows Britons are now sacrificing future savings to survive their daily lives amid the cost of living crisis.

The study shows that private pension incomes for lone mothers, carers, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities and the self-employed are still below three quarters of the average population, and some groups have seen a significant drop in the last two years.

Mel Stride, Secretary for Work and Pensions

Mel Stride, secretary for work and pensions, recently hinted that the state pension age could be increased (Image: Getty)

Madeleine says her situation has worsened because her and her husband's mortgage has recently doubled, which she "can't stand".

'We were thinking about downsizing when the mortgage doubled'. We are still looking at all our options," said the mother.

Madeleine said she also had to balance taking care of her three children during their preschool years while trying to run her business. She argues that if childcare was cheaper or free, as it is in some families, she could have worked more and earned more money.

Families get 30 hours of free childcare a week for children ages three and four – but only if eligibility requirements are met, including income.

Madeleine, however, believes this doesn't help small business owners, and argues that all children over the age of one should receive free childcare hours.

Child care costs have been rising above the rate of inflation for a number of years.

Madeleine said, "Kindergarten places are only available for free if you earn less than a certain amount of money.

"I think these places should be available to all and they should be free from the first year of life. This would provide more opportunities, especially for women.

"If women take the hit and leave the workplace, men should be expected to siphon off some of their pension while women can't work.

"We need to normalize men taking as much leave as women, so shared parental leave is important.

"The government's statutory paternity leave is two weeks, which is not proportionate."

Martin Lewis gives advice on how to take advantage of the tax-free childcare system

Mel Stride, work and pensions secretary, hinted last month that the state pension age could be raised due to the "pretty hairy" state of the public finances.

Lauren Wilkinson, senior researcher at the Pensions Policy Institute, says: "The private pension incomes of underserved groups remain below three-quarters of the private pension incomes of the average population, with some groups experiencing significant declines compared to the 2020 index. When it comes to income from state pensions and benefits Taking underprovision into account, the gap is smaller but still significant.

"The current economic climate could exacerbate the underpensions gap and make it harder to implement further measures to close the gap in the short term, but it is important that the problem of underpensions is tackled with a long-term perspective."

Samantha Gould, head of campaigns at NOW: Pensions and author of the report, said: 'There are a total of 8.6 million people in under-retirement groups who are excluded from auto-enrolment and potentially missing out on billions of pounds of pension savings every year. We have been campaigning for under-served groups since 2019. Our recent report found that private pension incomes are less than 85 percent of the population average, with some groups experiencing significant declines compared to our 2020 index.

"While the current economic environment makes it difficult for the government to implement potential remedies, doing nothing is not an option. Action must be taken now to reduce the pension gap and allow everyone to enjoy the comfortable retirement they deserve."

A government spokesman said: 'Automatic enrolment has succeeded in transforming pension saving, with more than 10.7 million workers enrolled in workplace pensions so far, and additional real savings of £33 billion in 2021 compared to 2012'. Automatic enrolment is specifically designed to help women and other groups, such as young people and low earners, who have historically been poorly or less well served by the pensions market.

"The Government's ambition for the future of automatic enrolment will allow people to save more and start saving sooner by removing the lower earnings threshold for contributions and lowering the age for automatic enrolment to 18 in the mid-2020s. We want to ensure that these changes are made in a way and at an affordable time, taking into account the needs of savers, employers and taxpayers.

"Improving the cost, choice and availability of quality childcare for working parents is important to this government and we have spent more than £20 billion over the last five years to help families with the cost of childcare."

Referring to calls for longer and better paid state paternity a government spokesman said:

"We remain committed to ensuring parental leave is fair and works for parents, including making it easier for fathers to take paternity leave.

"In addition, it is important for this government to improve the cost, choice and availability of quality childcare for working parents, and we have spent more than £20 billion over the last five years to help families with the costs of childcare."

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