Meet our Aviva Expert: Dale Critchley

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Hi, I’m Dale Critchley, Policy Manager at Aviva.

When times are hard, we naturally try and find ways to cut costs, but it’s a little more complicated when it comes to pensions.

Reducing your pension contributions might seem like a good idea, but there are a few things you need to be aware of:

Firstly, you might not save as much as you think. Remember, pensions are a form of tax relief. For every £10 that’s put into your pension at least £2 is paid by the government if you’re a basic-rate taxpayer. So, for every £10 you don’t pay in you would only get £8 extra take home pay.

Second, employer contributions. Employers pay in at least 3% of your salary, on top of your own contributions, but they don’t have to pay in if you stop paying in yourself. By opting out you’re effectively giving away a little bit of extra salary.

Next, think about the future. Reducing your contributions could mean you have less to live on in retirement. Think about it as an investment in your future self. Without it you could struggle to afford the lifestyle you want when you’re older. Our pension calculator can help you work out how much you’ll need when you retire.

Finally, your decisions might be different depending on your age. If you’re younger you might think of a pension as something to worry about later. But the contributions you pay today can be important and have a much longer time to grow than the contributions you pay in when you’re my age.

If you’re over 55 you don’t need to stop contributing to your workplace pension if your scheme allows you to access your pension savings instead. Taking some of your tax-free allowance, rather than stopping your contributions, means you don’t lose out on those valuable employer pension contributions.

Before making changes to your pension you should always seek help. Go to MoneyHelper, talk to PensionWise, or speak to a financial adviser.

Return to helping you manage your money

Dale Critchley – Policy Manager, Workplace Savings

Dale is expert in the rules and regulations of workplace pensions – how they the affect scheme members, the employers, and the companies, like Aviva, that design and manage those schemes.

Three things Dale couldn’t live without:

  • Live music (“I usually see a couple of bands every month or so”)
  • Sunderland Association Football Club (“I’m exiled in Bristol but results can still make or break a Saturday afternoon”)
  • Dr Martens (“I’ve probably owned at least one pair every year since I was in school”)

*Before making changes to your pension, you should always seek help. Go to, the government’s free and impartial guidance service, or speak to a financial adviser. They may charge for their advice, but it’ll be tailored to you.