PLSA – Retirement Living Standards

31 March 2022
How can you quickly show potential clients how much income they need in retirement?

In October 2021, the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) announced their new Retirement Living Standards. They created these living standards to help people picture what kind of lifestyle they could have in retirement. 

Source: Pension and Lifetime Savings Association, October 2021.

The standards show what life in retirement looks like at three different levels, Minimum, Moderate and Comfortable living which you can see along the top, and what a range of common goods and services would cost for each level which you can see underneath.  They’ve further split this down in to values for singles and couples, and for living in or outside London. The table above shows the figures for couples who live outside London.

Now this is of course a very rough average and you would be looking at each of your client’s individual needs and objectives. But perhaps you could use these at an initial client meeting or if you have employers on your books and they want you to provide a presentation to their employees, you could use these with them.  You could, for example, explain an average couple outside of London looking for a comfortable retirement would be looking to have an income of roughly £49,700.  This would allow them to make alterations to their house every 10/15 years, have £94 per week for food, run two cars and replace them every 5 years etc.

We know many people don’t know how much income they need in retirement and only have a vague sense of what they should be targeting.

The power of these Retirement Living Standards lies in giving people a real sense of what they will be doing and how they could be spending their money when they finish work.  You could be talking to your clients about the building blocks of their lives - their car, their home comforts, how much they can give their family, the kind of holidays they’ll have and I think this would help them visualise what they want in their retirement and should help them to engage with their pension.

For a complete list of all the Retirement Living Standards for both singles and couples, living inside or outside London, we’ve provided them in the following table.

LevelLocationAmount (Single)Amount (Couple)

Excl London







Excl London







Excl London






There’s quite a difference between the minimum and moderate levels.  A single consumer outside London with a moderate retirement living standard would need 91% more than the minimum level (£20,800 compared to £10,900).  But the difference between comfortable and moderate is 62% (£36,700 compared to £20,800).  This just highlights how much is required for basic income needs rather than additional discretionary spending.  Thankfully for many, their basic income needs will mostly be met if they receive the full new state pension which in 2022/23 is £9,627.80.  Checking the government’s website will explain how much they’ll receive, and perhaps if they know the minimum retirement living standards will be met, may encourage them to target a higher income and save more in to their pension.

As well as using the Retirement Living Standards for generic presentations to employees and potential clients we also thought you could add them to your website to give an indication of retirement income needs.

And a final thought, why not send a link to the Retirement Living Standards in advance of an initial client meeting to really get them thinking about what sort of retirement they may aspire to?  This will focus their attention on their income needs at retirement and make for a more productive meeting.

About the author

Craig Muir

Senior Pension Development & Technical Manager

Craig joined the Life & Pensions industry straight from university in 1988, putting his degree in Biological Sciences to great use by joining Scottish Widows before moving to Royal London. He has held several roles, including proposition training and development officer for Royal London before finally putting his analyst degree to use when he moved to Marketing in 1997 where he specialised in market research and analysis. Craig became Chairman of LAMRA, an informal association of Life Assurance providers, in 2004 as he worked to improve marketing and market research standards within the Financial Services Industry. Taking up a new role as an Intermediary Development & Technical Manager at the start of 2011, Craig is a specialist in interpreting and explaining changes to the pension rules and regulation. Craig is involved in developing adviser facing content, presenting, writing articles and commenting for the press. Craig is an avid rugby fan and continues to follow the lows and lows of Scottish rugby.

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