Lack of finances are forcing Brits to work for longer

Both men and women are retiring later as lack of finances forces people to work for longer.

On average, men retired at 64.5 in 2009, an increase from 63.8 in 2004, and for women the average age was 62, up from 61.2, a report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows.

Read: Retirement age scrapped: What does it mean for you?

The report also found increasing numbers of people are now working above their state pension age, although mainly in part-time positions.

Part-time working pensioners increasing

Between April and June last year, 59% of male pensioners were working part-time compared to 68% of women.

The number of working men aged 65 or over rose from 10.7% in 2008 to 11.7% in 2011 while the number of women working beyond the state retirement age increased to 13.5%, from 12.3%, during the same time period.

Sarah Levy, head of ONS pensions analysis unit, says: "This indicator of average age of withdrawal from the labour market will be important to watch in coming years as the state pension age rises".

The state pension age will rise for both men and women to 66 in 2020, and further rises are expected after this.

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How to boost your pension

Most people's pensions have been savaged in the last few years, and the big question is what to do about the shortfall. Here's some tips:

Finding additional money

There is no upper limit on contributions in the final year before you retire, so it's worth putting through other savings and investments as pension contributions, so that you get tax relief on them. However, it's not easy going into retirement without any savings you can access so make sure you leave some aside for extras such as holidays.

Don't ignore ISAs

A balance between your pensions and ISAs is important as they are a lot more flexible. ISAs also have a further tax benefit once you're retired, as the money you take from them is completely tax-free. In April, the limit will be extended again to £10,680 (out of that £5,340 can be put into a cash ISA) so it's worth putting away as much as you can so you can use your ISA as an untaxed income on retirement.

Read: Four steps to the perfect ISA

Maximise your state pension

If you want a full state pension, make sure there are no gaps in your national insurance contributions record, which may occur if you've worked abroad, were unemployed or on low earnings for a while. To check your contributions contact the Department for Works and Pensions directly on 0845 915 5996 or go to

Another option is deferring your pension - by deferring a year you can claim an extra percentage on top and you can take this as an extra weekly pension for the rest of your life or as a single lump sum.

What if I don't have enough saved?

Despite all your investment efforts your retirement income could be too small to make ends meet comfortably. One option is to trim those ends, the other is to continue working, an increasingly common option, and although this might not be the desired choice, it means your pension fund will continue to grow. If you own your own property, another option could be to downsize to free up some extra cash.

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