UK - Over 50% of pensioners received an average income of £156 a week from occupational pension schemes in 2006/07 - a rise of just £10 a week on the previous year, according to UK government figures.

Results of the latest Pensioners' Income Series for 2006-07, published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), showed the average net income for all pensioners - both couples and singles - was £303 a week before housing costs.

This is an increase of 29% over the decade between 1996-97 and 2006-07, although the report claimed recent growth in the average income has been "driven by continued increases in benefits and occupational pension income and earnings".

The average net income of pensioner couples was revealed to be £413 a week before housing costs, compared to £213 a week for single pensioners, meanwhile single females received an average of £208 a week, which is approximately 91% of the average £229 a week income for single males.

In addition, the figures showed on average older pensioners have lower incomes than younger retirees, with the average income for couples where the head of the household was under 75 was £437 a week, and for single under 75s, income was around £226 a week.

This is compared to over 75s, where a couple received an average income of £353 a week, and single over 75s on average got just £203.

The findings also showed occupational pension income made up the most substantial part of retirement income for 25% of the pensioners surveyed, with 44% relying on benefit income, 17% on earnings and 4% from personal pensions.

In addition, 37% of pensioners received less than half of their retirement income from the state pension, while the proportion receiving some income from occupational pensions was 59%, with an average amount of £156 a week, compared to £146 in 2005/06. 

The survey also showed 16% of pensioners relied on continued work after the state pension age, receiving average earnings of £392 a week, while just 13% had income from personal pensions, with an average of just £97 a week.

Meanwhile, figures from the DWP's 2006-07 Family Resources Survey (FRS) - which are used in the Pensioners' Income Series - revealed 47% of all adult employees are members of some kind of employer sponsored pension scheme, with the majority - 35% - in an occupational scheme.

Of these, 46% of male employees have joined an employer scheme, compared to 47% of women, although slightly more women, at 46% to 43%, are not in any kind of pension scheme at all.

Overall, 44% of adult employees had not made any pension provision in 2006-07, although the figure was significantly higher at 68% for adults that are self-employed, with just 31% saving in a private pension and 1% in an occupational scheme.

Watson Wyatt claimed the statistics underline the increase in the number of people continuing to save for retirement after reaching State Pension Age, as the FRS showed the number of males aged over 65 saving in a pension rose from 6% in 2005-06 to 21% in 2006-07.

The number of women continuing to save in a pension past the age of 65 also increased from 5% to 15% over the same period, while the proportion of female 60-64-year-olds saving in a pension rose from 35% to 44%.

Paul Macro, a senior consultant at Watson Wyatt, said: "Improved life expectancy means people have to choose between retiring later and retiring with less. With more people living into their 90s and beyond, putting your feet up in your early 60s and hoping your savings will see you through retirement will become increasing unrealistic."    

"Employers have responded to age discrimination rules by giving older workers more opportunity to benefit from company pension schemes and it looks like many have jumped at the opportunity. We're starting to see the more flexible approach to retirement that is needed to defuse Britain's demographic time bomb," he added.

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