Less than half the adult population are currently making adequate provision for their retirement. This report presents original qualitative research that discusses the barriers holding the public back from saving and engaging with pensions, explores what they realistically want from the pension system, and asks whether there are new 'defined ambition' models that can deliver it. Based on these findings, it makes three core recommendations for the next steps in pension reform.

Reform is underway to encourage people to work for longer and to save into a pension. However, contributing at the rates required by auto-enrolment across a full working life will give the current generation of employees a less than 50:50 chance of a decent income in retirement. New pension products and strategies are urgently needed to protect future living standards.

This report uses original qualitative research to explore the key barriers that are preventing people from engaging with pensions, and the underlying principles that they want from a pensions system, before assessing whether defined-ambition pension models could address these challenges and priorities.

It finds that public investment in pensions is being held back not by affordability alone, but by distrust of the institutions involved (including concerns that the government will 'move the goalposts'), a general lack of understanding about pensions, and the related fear of making the wrong decision. This demonstrates that better communication strategies, stronger governance structures, and long-term, cross-party commitments to policy are all essential components to successful reform.

Based on public attitudes, this report provides three core recommendations that policymakers and the industry should incorporate into the defined-ambition agenda:

  1. Ask members to set a target pension income.
  2. Offer protection against volatility by making a smoothed pension a lead option for auto-enrolment.
  3. Introduce a 'collective defined contribution' pension to the UK.