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The ONS has now apologized and withdrawn the chapter.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.
Caring for children and elderly relatives
Similar to June 2007
Square Mile’s series of informal interviews
Fine reduced to £60,000
Two roles created