The increasing financial pressure facing people in their 40s is putting their retirement income at risks, a new survey has found.

According to pensions and investment company Scottish Widows, the cost of raising children and the rising expenses related to caring for parents were among the main contributing factors to what the firm described as a "worrying dip" in savings among 40-somethings.

The research found that only 56% of all people of working age were saving adequately, which Scottish Widows defined as people putting aside 12% of more of their income.

The percentage of people in their 40s saving adequately has fallen from 56 to 53% over the past 12 months, in contrast to a trend that has seen an increase in the number of people aged between 30 and 50 who manage to meet the saving criteria.

"As first-time parents get older, and our own parents survive much longer than they would have done in the past, today's 40- to 49-year-olds are being squeezed more acutely than ever before," the report said.

Of the respondents who were in their 40s and unemployed, some 37% were looking after a child, while 18% were caring for an adult, the survey found.

The percentage of people in their 30s saving adequately also stood at 53% and Scottish Widows urged the category to take retirement planning more seriously.

However, the report added there was reason to be optimistic as the long-term impact of auto-enrolment, which makes compulsory for employers to automatically enrol their eligible workers into a pension scheme, will be felt on the long-term.

"Auto-enrolment has already brought six million new workplace savers into pensions and, with the minimum contributions for employers and employees set to rise in coming years, we expect average levels of savings will continue to rise," said the firm's retirement expert, Robert Cochran.

"Critical to maintaining this trend will be encouraging people to save more than the minimum contribution."

Richard Harrington, the Minister for Pensions, indicated the government's decision to implement auto-enrolment would help workers putting aside more money.

"We want everyone to set themselves up for a decent retirement by planning earlier and saving more," he said.

"This is why we are helping millions of people of all ages save into a workplace pension through automatic enrolment, which has reversed a decade-long decline in pension saving."