In 2015 there were 300,000 lump sum withdrawals from pension pots iStock

Fresh research suggests a significant minority of people aged 55 and over are withdrawing substantial sums from their pension pots.

Data published on Monday (15 August) by the Association of British Insurers noted that after the first full-year since pension freedoms began well over half of those withdrawing money from their pots took out 1% or less of the total value in the first three months of 2016.

However, at the same time 3,379 people took out more than 10% from their pension pots.

Over the full year, there were 300,000 lump sum withdrawals from pension pots, averaging £14,500 each, according to the ABI. There were also 1.03m drawdown payments, averaging £3,800.

Pension freedom mechanism was established by former Chancellor George Osborne in April 2015. It allowed anyone over the age of 55 to withdraw as much as they like from their pension pots, subject to income tax.

ABI said most people were being sensible with their withdrawals, but the attitude taken by some remains a concern.

Yvonne Braun, director of policy, long term savings and protection at the ABI, said: "The data also suggests a minority are withdrawing too much too soon from their pension pot – 4% of pots are having a tenth or more withdrawn – and many other customers are taking their entire pot in one go."

She admitted that some people withdrawing large sums could be investing the money elsewhere, but called on the government to investigate if the withdrawn capital was being reinvested in the absence of reliable data.

"This is a warning sign that requires further investigation. We need a full picture of these customers' circumstances and income," Braun added.

In response, a government spokesperson said: "Maintaining their annuity incomes remains the best option for the majority of people approaching retirement. However, people should have the freedom to make the decision that is best for them.

"We are working with our partners, such as Pension Wise and the Department for Work and Pensions, to ensure consumers are protected and that there is clear information to help people understand their options."

Updated at 12:25pm BST of 15 August, 2016 with additional data.