Will you be a Dot Cotton in retirement, or Hyacinth Bucket?

19 February 2014

More than a quarter of Brits are resigned to the fact they will need to work part-time in their retirement – like veteran Eastenders’ character Dot Cotton – according to a new survey.

Because of her precarious financial situation, Dot Cotton continues to work in Albert Square’s launderette, despite being well past retirement age. Some 27% of respondents of the survey by Bestinvest say they, too, would probably need to keep working part-time to supplement their pension after retirement age. This figure rose to 35% in the East Midlands area and 34% in the South West.

Matching up people’s expectations in retirement to popular TV characters, the survey found 25% of respondents were like Hyacinth Bucket of Keeping Up Appearances, believing they are or will be "financially comfortable in retirement".

Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet) had enough money to take her put-upon husband, Richard, on the occasional cruise. More people (32%) identified with Hyacinth in the South East, while the number dropped to 18% in the East Midlands.

State-benefit-dependent Jim Royle of The Royle Family matched the profile of 16% of Brits, who thought they would be "entirely or largely reliant on state benefits". This number rose to 24% in the South West and to 21% in the East of England.

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Some 15% of respondents believe they will have to be quite tight-fisted in retirement, saying "it won’t be fun". This matches the lifestyle of One Foot in the Grave’s Victor Meldrew, who was always bemoaning how unfair life was.

Meanwhile, 8% of people believe they will be "ducking and diving, doing what’s necessary to keep their heads above water" - just like Mo Harris or Big Mo in Eastenders, who survives on dodgy deals arranged through Fat Elvis. And people in the East Midlands are more inclined to do this, with 12% choosing this option.

When it comes to living in luxury - like the Dowager Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey - only 5% looked forward to a retirement, "having enough money to do whatever I want". Londoners and those living in Yorkshire/Humberside were slightly more optimistic, with 9% anticipating a comfortable retirement.

Unsurprisingly, relying significantly on family or friends in retirement – like Uncle Albert in Only Fools and Horses who was dependent on nephews Del Boy and Rodney – was the least popular way to retire, with only 3% expecting to rely on handouts from relatives. The figure was higher in London (6%) and the North West (7%).

Pension pot

Those surveyed were also asked to give an estimate of the total pension pot needed to achieve the UK average salary of £26,500. While the true figure is £930,000, on average people underestimated the size of the pension pot, saying you would just need £335,000.

Jason Hollands, managing director of Bestinvest, said: "The good news is that we are all living longer, but that requires financing. There are only two ways to address this; working longer or saving considerably more. While for some continuing to work may be a positive lifestyle choice, for others this will simply be a financial necessity and more are waking up to this prospect.

"For those who want to enjoy a restful retirement, the only answer is to save and invest considerable sums during working life. However, as our research shows, most people hugely underestimate the scale of pension that is needed."

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