• Only 7% make occasional one-off lump sum payments into their pension
  • However, one-off pension contributions of £1,000 every 5 years could boost your pension by £23,000 in retirement 
  • Calculations from Standard Life highlight the benefits of topping up your pension savings with one-off contributions throughout the course of your career

As new research* finds that less than one in ten UK adults make occasional lump sum payments into their pension Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group, reveals that those who boost their pension savings with one-off contributions every few years could generate thousands more in retirement savings.

Standard Life’s Retirement Voice report, conducted among 6,000 UK adults, found that only 7% of people make one-off contributions into their pension. However, their analysis shows that paying even small contributions can make a substantial difference to your total retirement pot, as it benefits from compound investment growth over time. 

If you began working on a salary of £25,000 per year and pay the minimum monthly auto-enrolment contributions (5% employee, 3% employer) from the age of 22, you could have a total retirement fund of £434,000 by the age of 66. However, if you were to also top up your pension with nine one-off payments of £500 every 5 years, from the age of 25 to 65, you could find yourself £11,000 better off in retirement. Of course, those in a position to contribute more have the potential to amass a larger retirement fund – for example paying in £5,000 every 5 years, between the ages of 25 to 65, could result in a total pot of £549,000 – £115,000 more than if no additional contributions had been made. These figures are not adjusted for inflation. 

Impact of one-off contributions:

  Total retirement fund at age of 66*  Based on pensions saving with one-off contributions every 5 years Total retirement fund at age of 66*  Based on pensions saving with one-off contributions every 10 years
No one-off contribution One-off contribution of £500 One-off contribution of £1000 One-off contribution of £5000 One-off contribution of £500 One-off contribution of £1000 One-off contribution of £5000
£434,000 £445,000 £457,000 £549,000 £440,000 £447,000 £499,000
  +£11,000 +£23,000 +£115,000 +£6,000 +£13,000 +£65,000

*if beginning working with a salary of £25,000 per year and paying 5% monthly employee contributions and 3% employer contributions into a workplace pension at the age of 22 and assuming 3.5% salary growth per year. Figures are not reduced to take effect of inflation. Annual Management Charge of 1.00% assumed. The figures are an illustration and are not guaranteed. Earning limits not applied. 


Gail Izat, Managing Director for Workplace at Standard Life said: ““When you come into a bit of extra money, whether it be a bonus, a gift or something else, it’s always tempting to spend it as soon as possible. Right now, lots of people will be using it just to get back on track with monthly bills. However, if you are in a position to do so, topping up your pension can be one of the best ways to look after your future self. Pensions are tax-efficient and have the potential to beat inflation and the interest on cash-based savings, so a small top-up now can lead to a big boost in the future.

“We’re coming towards the time of the year when a lot of people will be expecting their annual bonus, and sacrificing all or part of it into a pension can make a real difference in retirement. Employers and pension providers have a big role to play in conveying the benefits of looking to the future, if at all possible – crucially, showing how pensions are part of a bigger financial picture through targeted communications, as well as giving people the option of seeing all their finances in one place through tools like open finance, can help people stay engaged throughout their lives.”



Media enquiries

James Ikin
07825 191308

James Merrick
Standard Life
07974 063067

Notes to editors:


*Boxclever conducted research among 6,350 UK adults. Fieldwork was conducted 26th July – 9th August 2023. Data was weighted post-fieldwork to ensure the data remained nationally representative on key demographics.


1 - Calculations assume the following:

Starting salary Employer contributions Employee contributions Investment growth Salary growth Annual investment costs
£25,000 3.00% 5.00% 5.00% 3.50% 1.00%

About Standard Life

  • Standard Life is a brand that has been trusted to look after peoples’ life savings for nearly 200 years
  • Today it proudly serves millions of customers who come to Standard Life directly, through advisers and through their employers’ pension scheme.
  • Standard Life is part of Phoenix Group, the largest long-term savings and retirement business in the UK. We’re proud to be building on nearly 200 years of Standard Life heritage together
  • Our products include a variety of Pensions, Bonds and Retirement options to suit people’s needs, helping our customers to invest and save for their future. We’re proud to offer a leading range of sustainable and responsible investment options.
  • We support our customers on their journey to and through retirement with comprehensive, easy-to-understand guidance so they can invest in the right way for their needs, and plan a future they feel confident about.
  • The value of investments can go down as well as up and may be worth less than originally invested

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