The Office for National Statistics (ONS), a key source of pensions data, says it drastically underestimated private pension income because of a computer error.
The latest chapter of its publication ‘Pension Trends’ published in April said pensioner couples received on average £2,115 a year from private pensions.
However, the real figure is more than four times larger, at between £9,000 and £10,000 a year.
The ONS has now apologized and withdrawn the chapter. It says the estimates are being re-calculated and will be re-published once checks have been carried out.
It said the basic data for its most recent ‘Pensions Trends’ update was taken from a Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) survey in 2005/06. This provided weekly amounts for pensioners' incomes from non-state pensions. However, when calculating the annual income figure, the ONS looked at the data as if it were monthly and multiplied it by 12 rather than 52.
A spokesman for the ONS told the BBC it believed the miscalculation was an isolated incident but it is also double checking the state benefit income figures given in the chapter.
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