Proposals to fundamentally redesign the UK private pensions system

undamental plans proposed to redesign the UK defined contribution pension system (as opposed to workplace final salary schemes) were announced as part of the Budget 2014 speech. This is the most far-reaching reform to the taxation of pensions since the regime was introduced in 1921, introducing new flexibility to the pensions system.

The freedom to choose how and when you access your pension

Your retirement should be something to look forward to, not worry about how to make ends meet. Whatever you want to do, understanding how to build up enough retirement savings and how pensions work should help you achieve your goals.

You could soon have a pension without asking for one!

Millions of workers are being automatically enrolled into a workplace pension by their employer. A workplace pension is a way of saving for your retirement that’s arranged by your employer.

Most employers are obliged to have an occupational pension scheme for their employees

There are two main types of occupational workplace pension schemes:

Defined-contribution schemes

A defined-contribution (DC) or money-purchase pension scheme is one that invests the money you pay into it, together with any employer’s contribution, and gives you an accumulated sum on retirement, with which you can secure a pension income, either by buying an annuity or using income drawdown.

Withdrawing any amount of money from your pension pot

Flexible drawdown is a special form of drawdown under which any amount of money can be withdrawn from the pension pot. There are two requirements you have to meet before undertaking this option: you must meet the minimum income requirement (MIR) and you must have stopped contributing to any pensions. As the name suggests, this option is more flexible than income drawdown. Qualifying for this option removes the cap on the income you can take.

How to use your pension pot for the years ahead

As you approach retirement, you will have to decide how best to use your pension pot for the years ahead. One of the ways of doing this is by entering income drawdown. Unlike an annuity, with income drawdown, your money remains invested and you take a pension income directly from it. This is a flexible way to take your pension benefits, although it may not be suitable if you want the security of income that an annuity offers.

Choosing the right option for you

In the UK, there are basically two types of annuity:

The lack of professional financial advice can be costly

You only have one opportunity to shop around for your annuity. This is called ‘exercising the open market option’. Once you have committed to an annuity provider and started to receive an income, the decision can’t be reversed.

Deciding what to do with the pension pot you’ve built up

If you save through a private personal pension, when you approach retirement age you’ll have to decide what to do with the pension pot you have built up. If applicable to you, one option is to buy an annuity. It’s important to find an annuity that suits you and provides the best deal because, after your property, an annuity is probably the biggest purchase you will ever make.

A limit on the amount of tax relief you’re allowed

You can save as much as you like into a pension, but there is a limit on the amount of tax relief you’re allowed. From 6 April 2014, the Lifetime Allowance for pensions reduced from £1.5m to £1.25m. In essence, the Lifetime Allowance is intended to cap the level of tax advantaged pension funds that an individual can accumulate within their lifetime.

Coming to terms with the realities of your later years

If you’ve not thought about planning your retirement yet, don’t panic. We can discuss the different options available to you. This may include a personal pension, or a defined contribution pension. If appropriate, your provider invests the money you pay in and gives you an accumulated sum on retirement, with which you can currently buy an annuity or go into income drawdown.

A regular income once you reach State Pension age

The State Pension gives you a regular income once you reach State Pension age. It is based on National Insurance contributions and the amount you get depends on how much you paid in. To receive it, you must have paid or been credited with National Insurance contributions.

New living patterns require retirement income solutions that offer greater flexibility

More than half of over-55s currently in the workforce are happy to work past the default retirement age of 65, according to new research[1] from MetLife.

Fundamentally redesigning the UK private pensions system

Fundamental plans to redesign the UK defined contribution pension system (as opposed to workplace final salary schemes) were announced as part of the Budget 2014 speech. This is the most far-reaching reform to the taxation of pensions since the regime was introduced in 1921, introducing new flexibility to the pensions system.

Having a plan for the future can make the present feel less stressful

The number of people in the UK with no savings at all has risen year-on-year from eight million to over nine million, or 1 in 5 of the UK adult population, according to the 2014 Scottish Widows Savings Report. This brings the proportion of people who have savings (67%) down to a level not seen since 2011.