Finding a lost or forgotten pension could be an unexpected bonus during this cost of living crisis, and Punter Southall Aspire, the firm behind National Pension Tracing Day, is urging people to find their pensions in five easy steps.

National Pension Tracing Day is on Sunday 30 October the day the clocks go back. The campaign invites people to use that extra hour to join in a ‘Great Pension Treasure Hunt’ and search for their pensions. Experts estimate there could be 1.6 million lost pensions in the UK. That could equate to around 1 in 30 people finding a pension.

Last year, one person found three pensions worth a total of £55,000, another managed to retire seven years earlier than planned and another found two pensions, worth over £80,000.


Step 1 – Retrace career steps – People can start by heading down memory lane and making a list of places they’ve worked in the past and roughly how long they worked there. Looking through old CVs, payslips, P45s or P60s can help.


Step 2 – Check old papers – Search through paperwork and emails for old pension statements. Have a good hunt for a pension statement for each place worked. People should also think back to whether they ever had a separate personal pension and if they ever ‘contracted out’ of part of the State Pension[i]. It could mean they had a personal pension.


Step 3 – Sense check – Look through the paperwork to check if contact details are up to date for each pension pot. If they are not, get in touch with the provider or administrator to update them.  At the same time ask for an up- to-date statement. It could offer a welcome surprise.


Step 4 – Mind the gap – If people spot any gaps in their pension history it’s time for some detective work.  For jobs where they don’t have a pension statement, try to find contact details for the pension provider or administrator. They could contact the employer’s HR department directly or use the government’s Pension Tracing Service.


If old employers can’t be found, they may have changed their name or merged with another organisation. Try searching Companies House – it lists companies’ previous names with their current registered office address. Or, people that worked for a charity could search the Charities Register.

Employers may have used a personal pension (possibly called a ‘group personal pension’) or a group stakeholder plan as their workplace pension. Find the name of the pension provider, perhaps by contacting an old employer, speaking to ex-work colleagues or finding old paperwork.


Step 5 – Get in touch – Get in touch with the provider or administrator and check if they’ve got any record of a pension. People will need to prove who they are so will need their National Insurance number and possibly other details. It’s also worth asking them to check if they did have a pension with them but transferred it elsewhere.


Not everyone will find a pension, but for those that do the final part of the treasure hunt is:

  • find out how much is in the pot and ask for an up-to-date statement
  • give them up-to-date contact details so the provider can keep in touch in future
  • ask if they can be registered to access the pension information online
  • Celebrate! They have found lost treasure they had forgotten all about

Alan Morahan, Chief Commercial Officer, says, “Finding an old pension is like paying yourself money you didn’t know you had, so we urge everyone who thinks they might have lost or forgotten a pension to spend some time going through these steps.  It’s very straightforward and could really change someone’s life as it has done for the people who followed the campaign last year.”

Johanna Nelson, Communications Director, Punter Southall Aspire, added, “There is nothing to lose and everything to gain by spending the extra hour searching for money. We encourage everyone to join the Great Pension Treasure Hunt.”

National Pension Tracing Day won the Pensions Age Thought Leadership Award and the UK Pensions Awards Educational and Thought Leadership Initiative of the Year.

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[i] Contracting out was popular in the late 1980s and 1990s. You stopped building up part of the State Pension. In return you either paid lower National Insurance contributions, or some of your National Insurance contributions went into a pension for you. This could have been a workplace or personal pension – so there could be a missing personal pension for you.

Lisa Baker

Author Lisa Baker

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