HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) latest figures indicate that more than 347,000 people withdrew funds from their pensions throughout July, August and September this year.
This amounts to a six per cent increase when compared with the same period in 2019, as savers over the age of 55 make use of the existing pension freedoms to take money out of their pots during the pandemic.
The data also shows a two per cent rise compared to the previous three months, which HMRC said was higher than normal.
In its reports, HMRC said: “The number of individuals making withdrawals typically peaks in April, May and June, the beginning of the tax year, before dropping in July, August and September.
“However, this year, withdrawals have increased in July, August and September. This change in behaviour may be attributable to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Throughout July, August and September 2020, £2.3 billion was withdrawn from pensions. While more people have accessed their pension, the average amount withdrawn in July and September was less at £6,700.
This is seven per cent lower than the same months in 2019 and resulted in a two per cent decrease in the total withdrawal value year-on-year when compared with the £2.4 billion withdrawn throughout the same months in 2019.
In total, more than £37 billion has been accessed via flexible withdrawals from pension pots since the freedoms were introduced in 2015.