The 6th April marked the official introduction of some major reforms to the pensions system. Investment charges have been re-examined, an auto-enrolment scheme has been rolled out, and the ability to pull money from pensions has been completely redefined. With practically every aspect of saving for retirement scrutinised and changed by the government, almost all of us stand to benefit from reassessing our pension arrangements in light of these alterations, so which of these changes do you most need to know about?
One of the most important changes implemented by the Conservative government has been to give people greater power over how they spend, save or invest their retirement pots. You’ll now find that you’re able to access your entire pension fund from the age of 55. Additionally, you’ll no longer be limited to removing 25 per cent of your pension pot tax-free on only one occasion; you’ll be able to make as many withdrawals as you wish.
An additional move by the government has been to introduce free money guidance to advise people on their options and how the changes will affect them. Although these sessions will not offer personalised advice, they will provide expert general guidance to help inform your decisions.
These changes will also mean that a number of new pension products will be made available to those considering their retirements. New income drawdown schemes, in particular, look likely to see a surge in popularity thanks to changes in their format. These alterations will mean that they’re no longer only available to those with a certain amount of other guaranteed income, and that people may be able to invest in them alongside an existing work pension.
These reforms have been accompanied by a flurry of tax changes, foremost among them the ability for pensioners to pass on the remainder of their pension pots to loved ones tax-free. Many will welcome this, as the children of deceased pensioners must currently pay a 55 per cent tax on their inheritance. Now, those with a parent under 75 will not pay any tax at all, whilst those with an older parent will only be taxed at their current income tax level.
Increased State Pensions
State pensions have also been altered, which means a 2.5 per cent increase in income for those currently receiving them. This means that those reaching retirement can now expect £115.95 per week. A ‘triple lock’ has also been introduced, which means that payments will increase by whatever percentage is the highest out of inflation, average earnings or 2.5 per cent. In addition, the two-tier system also looks set to be phased out, with the intention that everyone should receive a ‘flat rate’ state pension of between £144 and £155 a week by 2021.
How will these changes affect you?