Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 7 June 2022.

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Photo of Baroness Altmann Baroness Altmann Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government what data is (1) collected, and (2) published, relating to trust-based pension (a) Defined Contribution schemes, or (b) MasterTrust schemes, in any year since 2015, to show how many people have accessed their pension funds; and whether they purchased an (i) annuity, (ii) income drawdown, (iii) uncrystallised pension fund lump sum, or (iv) withdrew funds in full.

Photo of Baroness Stedman-Scott Baroness Stedman-Scott The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) publish data on their website, based on what is reported to them, on the number of flexible payments made from pensions, the number of individuals who have received these flexible payments and the total value of all flexible payments. As this includes all flexible pension payments, the data represents a proportion of payments made from trust-based Defined Contribution (DC) schemes as well as contract-based schemes. As of December 2021, 1.9 million individuals have taken 16.0 million flexible payments from their DC pensions since the introduction of Pension Freedoms in 2015.

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) publishes data on their website from trust-based DC schemes on an annual basis. This publication provides a high-level snapshot of the current landscape of occupational DC trust-based pension provision in the UK, including information on the number, memberships, and assets of schemes. The most recent publication is TPR’s 12th edition, DC Trust: scheme return data 2021 to 2022, which includes data captured since 2015.

Included in this, they report the number of members for whom each scheme is directly providing (self-annuitisation) or facilitating (lifetime annuities) annuity payments. At the end of 2021, there were 1,000 memberships receiving lifetime annuities, excluding hybrid schemes (which have a mixture of guarantees and investments), and less than 1000 memberships receiving self-annuitisations, also excluding hybrid schemes. Number of memberships, or number of pension pots, does not equate to number of individuals, as many people are members of more than one pension scheme.

The data in this publication from TPR does not capture all pensioner members, as some members will have retired but transferred out of their scheme.

Members who transfer out of a trust-based DC scheme and access their pension savings via a contract-based provider will be included in the data collected by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and published in their Retirement Income Market Data. However, data is not currently collected on volumes of members that transfer out of trust-based DC schemes with the intention of accessing their savings. The FCA data shows that from October 2015- March 2021, over 3.3 million DC pots have been accessed in the contract-based market. This data is presented in Table 1 and can be found on the FCA webpage: Retirement income market data 2020/21. This data is also provided broken down by year in Annex A.

Table 1: Volumes and proportion of retirement income products, October 2015- March 2021 (FCA Retirement Income Data)


Total volume

Proportion of all pots accessed

Annuities purchased in period



New drawdown policies entered and not fully withdrawn in period



Pots where first partial UFPLS payment taken and not fully withdrawn in period



Full cash withdrawals from pots being accessed for first time in period



Total pots accessed for the first time



*Volumes prior to April 2018 were drawn from a representative sample of firms. The FCA started collecting data from all regulated firms providing retirement income products from 1 April 2018.

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