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New pension income options from April 2015

The 2014 Budget introduced new pension income options for consumers aged over 55 with a defined contribution pension giving more choice and flexibility on taking money from your pension savings.

Our service aims to assist you if you want to take cash and/or income from your pension savings either over a few years or over your lifetime. Our service is also aimed at supporting the goal of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), who announced in January 2015 that it required firms like ours to provide consumers with the right information and “risk warnings” based on their circumstances so that they can make informed decisions on the new pension options which are:

  • An annuity – providing a guaranteed retirement income for life
  • Flexi-access drawdown – providing a flexible retirement income
  • Taking your whole pot as cash

Under the new flexible rules you can mix and match any of these options, using different parts of one pension pot or using separate or combined pots.

There can be quite a lot to weigh up when working out which pension income option or combination will provide you and your dependants with the most favourable solution for your needs and circumstances so please take your time to understand your pension income options. If you want the security of having your future pension income guaranteed, then an annuity is likely to still be the most appropriate product for you and in choosing an annuity, it is vital to exercise your “open market option” by shopping around for the best annuity deal – since your current pension fund provider may not offer you the best annuity rate. Annuity rates are highly competitive and vary a great deal from one provider to another. There are also a few specialist providers that offer higher enhanced annuity rates for people in poor health with medical conditions, or lifestyle issues such as smokers. This is one of the very few times when ill health can prove beneficial!

Pension drawdown enables you to take a tax-free lump sum leaving the remaining pension fund invested for potential future growth. This is more risky as your pension fund value and future income are dependent on uncertain investment returns but this is also more flexible, as you retain control of your pension fund and you can take whatever level of pension income or ad hoc withdrawals you want each year.

Lastly, you can now take all or as much as you like of your pension savings in cash. The first 25% is normally tax-free but the rest is subject to tax at your highest tax rate, so you need to consider very carefully how much you take. You should also consider that if you spend all of the money, this might leave you with little income for the rest of your lifetime.


Scam warning – post April 2015!

With your best interests in mind, following the new pension income options introduced in April 2015, please beware of scammers seeking to cheat you out of your pension savings. Scammers will often try to rush you into a decision, offering you a limited “very attractive” investment opportunity.

You should be on your guard against this type of fraud, as once you have been tricked into transferring the money to someone operating a scam, it will usually be too late to do anything about it.

We highly recommend that you only discuss your pension income arrangements with a firm which is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Our details can be found in the Financial Services Register on the FCA website: Our registered number is 726601.

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