Almost half of those over 50 who were working at the start of the pandemic have either lost their job, been furloughed or had hours or pay cut. Those working in hospitality and entertainment have been hit hardest of all, with four in five losing out, while two thirds of the self-employed have seen their businesses affected. The total cost is an incredible £33.2 billion, according to SunLife, with the average loss an incredible £445 a month.
One in 10 have stopped or cut pension contributions, from £123 to £72 a month on average, hitting their nest eggs.
SunLife director Justin Cole said: “For a 50-year-old, that is equivalent to £11,016 less in their pension pot at age 68.”
One in eight over-50s have lost their jobs and financial expert Jasmine Birtles said: “Redundancy is not fun at any time but it can seem a little tougher if you are over 50.”
The shock can knock some for six but Birtles said: “There is a world of opportunities out there, so don’t spend too much time feeling blue.”
Separate research shows that more than three quarters of those over 50 think Covid-19 will hit their ability to retire.
One in three have less than £50,000 in a pension while a similar proportion also have personal debt to clear.
David Rees, chief operating officer at British Seniors, which conducted the research, said the retirement dream is slipping out of reach and planning is vital.
Just one in eight is taking proactive steps towards retirement planning. “Professional advice and the right products can give you peace of mind in your golden years,” Rees said.
Becky O’Connor, head of pensions and savings at Interactive Investor, said many are whittling down their savings balances to stay afloat: “Older workers over 55 are using pension money they need for the future to get by now.
“For too many, daily life is a battle for financial survival until they can get back to work.”
She said many have also been hit by the increase in the state pension age to 66, particularly women, that will rise again to 67 by 2028.
Laith Khalaf, AJ Bell financial analyst, said those who stop pension payments after losing their job must resume them once earnings recover: “Increase your contributions if you can, to make up for lost time.”
Not everyone is suffering. SunLife research shows one in 10 are better off by £350 a month on average, due to spending less.
Khalaf said do not let your good fortune go to waste by leaving money in cash earning a near zero return: “If saving for five years or longer, the stock market should generate a superior return.”