Don’t miss the ISA deadline

Use your tax-efficient allowance or lose it forever!

Time is running out to take advantage of this year’s Individual Savings Account (ISA) allowances. You get one ISA allowance per tax year. So use it or lose it soon, when the tax year ends on 5 April.

Any unused ISA allowance will not be rolled over into the new tax year. On 6 April when the new tax year starts, if you haven’t used all of your or your children’s ISA allowances from the previous tax year, they will be lost forever.

Want to know more about investing in an ISA? Your ISA questions answered:

What is an Individual Savings Account (ISA)?

An ISA is a ‘tax-efficient wrapper’.Types of ISA include a Cash ISA and Stocks & Shares ISA. A Cash ISA is similar to a normal deposit account, except that you pay no tax on the interest you earn. Stock & Shares ISAs allow you to invest in equities, bonds or commercial property without paying personal tax on your proceeds.

Can I have more than one ISA?

You have a total tax-efficient allowance of £20,000 for this tax year. This means that the sum of money you invest across all your ISAs this tax year (Cash ISA, Stocks & Shares ISA, Lifetime ISAs, Innovative Finance ISA, or any combination) cannot exceed £20,000. However, bear in mind that you have the flexibility to split your tax-efficient allowance across as many ISAs and ISA types as you wish. For example, you may invest £10,000 in a Stocks & Shares ISA and the remaining £10,000 in a Cash ISA. This is a useful option for those who want to use their investment for different purposes and over varying periods of time.

When will I be able to access the money I save in an ISA?

Some ISAs may tie your money up for a period of time. However, others are flexible. If you’re after flexibility, variable rate Cash ISAs don’t tend to have a minimum commitment. This means you can keep your money in one of these ISAs for as long – or as short – a time as you like. This type of ISA also allows you to take some of the money out of the ISA and put it back in without affecting its tax-efficient status.
‘An ISA is a tax-efficient way to invest because your money is shielded from Income Tax, tax on dividends and Capital Gains Tax’
On the other hand, fixed-rate Cash ISAs will typically require you to tie your money up for a set amount of time. If you decide to cut the term short, you usually have to pay a penalty. But ISAs that tie your money up for longer do tend to have higher interest rates.

Stocks & Shares ISAs don’t usually have a minimum commitment, which means you can take your money out at any point. As with all investing, it’s recommended that you invest your money for at least five years or more. Staying invested for longer allows your investment to grow and to better weather any market volatility. With the cost of living in the UK rising at its fastest rate in 41 years, can you really afford to see the purchasing power of your hard-earned savings stagnate in a bank account?

Could I take advantage of a Lifetime ISA?

You’re able to open a Lifetime ISA if you’re aged between 18 and 39. You can use a Lifetime ISA to buy your first home or save for later life. You can put in up to £4,000 each year until you’re 50. The government will add a 25% bonus to your savings, up to a maximum of £1,000 per year.

What is an Innovative Finance ISA?

An Innovative Finance ISA allows individuals to use some or all of their annual ISA allowance to lend funds through the Peer to Peer lending market. Peer to Peer lending allows individuals and companies to borrow money directly from lenders. Your capital and interest may be at risk in an Innovative Finance ISA and your investment is not covered under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

What is a Junior ISA?

This is a savings and investment vehicle for children up to the age of 18. It is a tax-efficient way to save or invest as it is free from any Income Tax, tax on dividends and Capital Gains Tax on the proceeds. The Junior ISA subscription limit is currently £9,000 for the tax year 2022/23.

Is tax payable on ISA dividend income?

No tax is payable on dividend income. You don’t pay tax on any dividends paid inside your ISA.

Is Capital Gains Tax (CGT) payable on my ISA investment gains?

You don’t have to pay any CGT on profits.

I already have ISAs with several different providers. Can I consolidate them?

Yes you can, and you won’t lose the tax-efficient ‘wrapper’ status. Many previously attractive savings accounts may cease to have a good rate of interest, and naturally some Stocks & Shares ISAs don’t perform as well as investors would have hoped. Consolidating your ISAs may also substantially reduce your paperwork. We’ll be happy to talk you through your options.

Can I transfer my existing ISA?

Yes, you can transfer an existing ISA from one provider to another at any time as long as the product terms and conditions allow it. If you want to transfer money you’ve invested in an ISA during the current tax year, you must transfer all of it. For money you invested in previous years, you can choose to transfer all or part of your savings.

What happens to my ISA if I die prematurely?

The rules on ISA death benefits allow for an extra ISA allowance to the deceased’s spouse or registered civil partner.

THE VALUE OF YOUR INVESTMENTS CAN GO DOWN AS WELL AS UP AND YOU MAY GET BACK LESS THAN YOU INVESTED.

Chancellor retains state pension triple lock

State pension is set for a record-breaking increase from April 2023.

If you’re currently receiving or have been looking into the State Pension, then you’ve probably heard of the ‘triple lock’. But what is it?

The triple lock was introduced in 2010. Its purpose is to make sure that the State Pension doesn’t lose value over time. The triple lock aims to protect pensioners against the impact of inflation. If the State Pension didn’t change but the price of goods and services continued to increase over time, then you wouldn’t be able to buy as much with it. Meaning you’d be losing money in real terms.

In the 2022 Autumn Statement, the Chancellor confirmed that the triple lock will be reinstated from 6 April 2023. This means the State Pension will rise in line with last September’s inflation rate – 10.1% – in the 2023/24 tax year. Anyone receiving the State Pension will benefit from the triple lock.

To make the guarantee even more secure, it included three separate measures of inflation, hence ‘triple lock’. The three-way guarantee was that each year, the State Pension would increase by the greatest of the following three measures: average earnings; prices, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) and 2.5%. The government usually compares the three rates in September, before implementing the correct rise the following April.

The State Pension triple lock has proved to be a burden for successive governments, as it has proven costly for the taxpayer. Because of people earning much less during the lockdowns of 2020, there was a big leap in average earnings of 8% come 2021 as people returned to work. The government announced that the triple lock would be suspended for the 2022/23 tax year.

No ‘one-size-fits-all’ protection solution

Helping you feel confident your family’s finances are secure.

With a New Year comes resolutions. Everyone should make a resolution to review their protection and estate plans. A solid plan will help you feel confident your family’s finances are secure.

The uncertainty of the past couple of years has shown how important it is to have a robust plan in place for securing your family’s finances. While no one knows what is around the corner, reviewing your protection, updating your Will and creating an estate plan will help you rest assured that the financial side of things is taken care of.

These are some of the main considerations:

Protect against illness and death

It is essential to make sure that you have adequate protection in place, depending on your particular circumstance. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ protection solution so receiving professional advice is important when considering the right products for you and your family’s needs. This will ensure that your finances remain secure if illness or death happens unexpectedly, giving peace of mind to you and your loved ones at what could otherwise be a difficult time.

A life insurance policy is one of the most important types of protection to have in place. It pays out a lump sum if you die during the duration of the policy, helping your family to pay off their debts, maintain their lifestyle or cover any other expenses they may have.

Critical illness cover can also provide valuable financial protection in case you are diagnosed with a specified serious illness while your policy is active. This type of cover will pay out a tax-free lump sum if you are diagnosed with an eligible condition, allowing you to concentrate on getting better without having to worry about bills piling up.

Income protection is also worth considering when developing your financial plan. This type of cover provides regular payments should you become ill or injured and are unable to work. This can help you cover your regular outgoings, such as mortgage payments or rent, while you recover.

Write or review your Will

Writing or reviewing your Will is essential for making sure that your wishes are respected and carried out after you pass away. It ensures that your money and other assets go to the people and causes you care about, such as relatives, family friends, charitable organisations, etc. Additionally, it provides you with the opportunity to appoint guardians for any children in your life, so they can be looked after by people you know and trust.

If you don’t have a Will in place when death occurs, then the rules of intestacy will be applied to distribute your assets and possessions according to legal guidelines. These might not always align with what you would have wanted. Therefore, it is important to obtain professional advice on how best to proceed with making a professional Will. Doing so can help to ensure that your wishes are appropriately recorded and respected, even after you’ve gone. With the right professional advice and guidance, writing or reviewing your Will provides peace of mind that comes with having your affairs in order.

Create an estate plan

Creating an estate plan is a step that can make a significant impact on the financial futures of your children and grandchildren. Despite common misconceptions, estate planning isn’t only for the wealthy. In fact, due to rising house prices and the freezing of the Inheritance Tax (IHT) nil-rate band until April 2028, IHT could now be more impactful than before.

Fortunately, there are various ways in which you can minimise this unexpected burden, ranging from making lifetime gifts to utilising pensions and trusts. To get the most out of these options, it’s best to seek professional financial advice. We can help guide you as you build a comprehensive estate plan tailored specifically to your needs, to ensure that your family is well-protected and their financial futures are secured.

Leaving a tax-efficient legacy

Considering the rule of seven when making financial gifts.

You’ve worked to build up your wealth. But now it’s time to make plans so your loved ones can get the most from the estate you intend to leave behind. If you think you might be affected by Inheritance Tax, it can be tempting to hold off making plans to do anything about it. But the truth is that it’s better to plan earlier for Inheritance Tax. 

Estate planning is an essential element of preparing your finances for when you are no longer around but want to make sure that as much of your estate as possible is exempt from Inheritance Tax. Current thresholds are frozen until at least 2026, so it’s likely more estates could trigger a 40% Inheritance Tax bill over the coming years.

Inheritance Tax planning options

On your death, the first £325,000 nil-rate band (2022/23) of your estate is exempt from the 40% Inheritance Tax. However, you can also make financial gifts that will reduce the value of your estate when you die. For those who have accumulated a reasonable amount of wealth and who have children, the seven-year rule can be taken full advantage of.

This is one of the most popular, and cost-effective, Inheritance Tax planning options relating to gifting some of your wealth to loved ones before you die. The idea being that the people who matter to you most could start to benefit from some form of inheritance earlier.

Gift reduces each year

It also reduces the value of your estate. Meaning, when it’s assessed for Inheritance Tax, your potential liability could prove lower. Or, even better, you don’t have one at all. In order for bigger financial gifts to be fully exempt from Inheritance Tax, you need to live for at least seven more years.

If you die within seven years of making the gift, it is still considered part of your estate and it will be included in your Inheritance Tax assessment.

If you die between three and seven years, you would still have to pay some tax on the gift if it exceeded the available nil-rate band. The amount payable on the gift reduces each year once you have survived the gift by over three years. Only after seven years is the full gift no longer part of your estate for Inheritance Tax purposes.

There are many ways you might be able to reduce (or even eliminate) a potential liability. But the longer you wait, the more expensive some of these options might prove.

It goes without saying that none of us knows when our time will come. That’s why it can really help to start making plans now. Doing so could help you maximise the amount of inheritance you leave to loved ones.

INHERITANCE TAX PLANNING IS A HIGHLY COMPLEX AREA OF FINANCIAL PLANNING.

INFORMATION PROVIDED AND ANY OPINIONS EXPRESSED ARE FOR GENERAL GUIDANCE ONLY AND NOT PERSONAL TO YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES, NOR ARE INTENDED TO PROVIDE SPECIFIC ADVICE.

PROFESSIONAL FINANCIAL ADVICE SHOULD BE OBTAINED BEFORE TAKING
ANY ACTION.

INHERITANCE TAX PLANNING IS A HIGHLY COMPLEX AREA OF FINANCIAL PLANNING. THE FINANCIAL CONDUCT AUTHORITY DOES NOT REGULATE INHERITANCE TAX PLANNING.

Doing the right thing for the planet

Four in five looking to change jobs demand green pensions.

When you first start paying into your employer’s pension, your contributions, along with employer contributions and tax relief, will be invested through a default fund. You will usually have several fund options to choose from.

Increasingly, new research has identified that people are choosing to work for employers that provide ‘green pensions’[1]. Today’s workers expect employers to show true leadership and offer pensions which are invested responsibly.

Investments in high ESG-risk sectors

Demonstrating a genuine commitment to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) priorities is not only the right thing to do for the planet, it could also be a game changer for attracting and retaining the best talent. Business leaders have a real opportunity to show staff that they are serious about doing the right thing.

Many companies remain unaware of how their current employee pension schemes can undermine the progress they are making to develop more sustainable operations, primarily due to sizeable investments in high ESG-risk sectors such as coal, oil sands and tobacco.

One of the top four benefits

The data reveals the views of employees and employers relating to sustainable workplace policies and individual practices. Across the UK workforce, eight out of ten employees (83%) view climate change as an important issue – expecting their employer to take an active stance on ESG issues and implement sustainable workplace practices.

One quarter (24%) of employees cited support for more sustainable personal finances – including green pensions – as one of the top four benefits that they expect from a new employer, alongside flexible working (48%), cost of living support (39%) and an attractive holiday package (34%).

More sustainable pensions

72% of workers said that it was important their employer invests their savings sustainably, as part of their organisation’s overall stance on critical environmental and social issues. With a third (32%) of workers currently seeking new employment – and a further quarter (24%) planning to apply for new jobs in the next year – the data suggests that the provision of more sustainable pensions may provide a new way for employers to attract and retain talent.

Despite this sizeable employee demand, only a quarter (25%) of employers claim to be knowledgeable about green pensions. More than a third (37%) of employers claim to not know anything about them or have never heard of them.

Social and governance outcomes

In fact, nearly half of employers (43%) identified a green pension as a fund that avoids investments in highly polluting industries, such as oil or thermal coal projects. But only a fifth of employers (22%) acknowledged the social and governance outcomes, such as the equitable treatment of workers or promotion of gender and racial diversity on corporate boards (17%).

With over a third (34%) of employers admitting they don’t currently offer a sustainable pension scheme to their employees, there is a significant commitment gap on implementing workplace policies that positively impact ESG issues.

Source data:
[1] Make My Money Matter, FTSE100 Research, September 2022

Don’t abandon pension contributions as prices rise

Savers could miss out on thousands of pounds in retirement.

As the cost of living continues to soar, with inflation reaching a 40-year high, the impact on household finances is taking its toll. But it is essential to try to maintain a savings habit even in the current climate. The impact of any breaks in pension contributions could mean savers miss out on thousands of pounds in future that will mean less income during retirement.

Research has highlighted that reducing or stopping pension contributions, even for a relatively short period of time, can have a significant impact on the final pot, with savers potentially being thousands of pounds less well off in retirement as a result[1].

Having an even bigger impact

For example, someone who began working with a salary of £25,000 per year and paid the standard monthly auto-enrolment contributions (3% employer, 5% employee) from age of 22, would have a total retirement fund of £456,893 at the age of 68.

However, stopping pension contributions at the age of 35 for just one year, would result in a total pot of £444,129 – almost £13,000 less than if they had not stopped paying in. Stopping contributions for a longer period would have an even bigger impact.

Risk of sacrificing savings to cover everyday expenses

While currently relatively low, the risk of sacrificing savings to cover everyday expenses continues as long as these challenging circumstances go on. Almost all (93%) say that increasing costs and high inflation are going to impact, or are already impacting, their financial situation.

If possible, the first port of call should be to reduce spending, for example, cutting back on unnecessary purchases and shopping around for better value deals. Doing this, rather than making decisions that will affect future finances such as reducing or stopping pension contributions, even if for a short period only, will be beneficial in the long term.

Tips for potential spending cutbacks in the current environment

1. Review your expenditure for potential areas of savings – By looking through your monthly outgoings, you may find there are ways to make savings. Do you have any subscriptions or memberships that you no longer use and could cancel or pause? Do you spend a lot of money on things that are a luxury, such as takeaways? Taking some of these small steps could make a difference.

2. Shop around for better deals – You may be able to switch household providers and find cheaper deals, such as for broadband or your mobile phone. Many providers have package deals for new customers so it’s worth using a price comparison website to see if there are savings to be had.

3. Set budgets – To help you keep an eye on your outgoings, it is a good idea to set a budget for things like food shopping and socialising so you don’t spend more than your means.

Source data:
[1] Research conducted among a sample of c.2,600 contactable Standard Life customers between 9–22 May 2022. Calculations are intended for the sole purpose of providing an illustration regarding the projection of savings and pensions. They should not be used with the intention to give an accurate representation of real world outcomes.

Spotting an investment scam

How scammers are getting more convincing.

Around half of UK adults (51%) have or know someone who has received a suspicious communication in the last 12 months, according to new research[1]. This equates to 27 million people across the UK.

Most of these cases can be described as ‘phishing scams’ (51%), when a fraudster attempts to imitate a legitimate company or person to secure important information from the victim.

Pension transfers

Crypto scams are also becoming worryingly common, with one in five reporting they or someone they know has received one in the last 12 months.

Pension transfer scam communications account for almost one in ten (8%) of contacts, while romance scams or dating scams are similar at 11%.

Scammer approaches

Around a fifth (21%) of those who have or know someone who has been contacted say they have lost money because of approaches by scammers. However, among 18 to 34-year-olds, this increases to almost half (46%).

The average loss to scams for themselves/someone they know was around £207, with this amount almost doubling to £361 for those aged 18 to 34 years old, compared to £112 for those aged 55+.

Perfect opportunity

With many families struggling to make ends meet, and as the cost of living squeeze tightens, offering easy access to your pension might seem the perfect opportunity to dig yourself out of trouble. The reality is you can’t access your pension savings before the age of 55, so it’s very likely it will be scammers.

Follow the simple rule of thumb: if it appears too good to be true, it inevitably is. Simply walk away, hang up or delete the email or text to keep your money safe from the scammers.

51% of UK adults – 27million people – have received or know someone who has received a suspicious communication in the last 12 months.

Younger people are more likely to know someone who has lost money, and are aware of someone losing more than older generations.

Almost one in ten (8%) communications relate to pension transfers.

10 tips to help identify and avoid financial scams

1. If you receive an offer to help you access your pension savings before age 55, for example, through ‘pension loans’ and ‘free pension reviews’. It is only possible to access your pension before age 55 in rare situations, for example, if you are very ill.

2. Warnings that the deal is limited and you must act now. This is a pressure tactic and making any financial decisions should not be done under pressure.

3. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will never contact you by email, phone or text informing you of a tax refund, so simply delete or ignore any contact made this way – HMRC will only contact you via post.

4. You are discouraged from seeking professional financial advice or talking to Pension Wise.

5. Sign up for Action Fraud Alert, a free service provided by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. The service alerts about new types of crime or those which are increasing in their severity. If you sign up, you will receive those alerts which are relevant to you. https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/sign-up-for-action-fraud-alert

6. Contact by somebody who is not on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Register. The Register is a public record of all the regulated firms and individuals in the financial services industry, including pension providers and investment companies https://register.fca.org.uk/

7. Be very cautious around any recommendation to take a large amount of money, or your whole pension pot, in a lump sum and invest it elsewhere, for example, in overseas property, forestry, car parking or storage units. And be very wary of unsolicited offers of ‘amazing investment returns’.

8. Seek advice from your professional financial adviser who will be able to explain the rules and tax implications of different options and help you make the best choices for your personal circumstances, so be very suspicious if this is discouraged.

9. There can be significant tax implications if you choose to cash in your pension in one go, so check the tax position before you make any decisions.

10. Check www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart for known scams and use the tools to help identify a potential scam.

Source data:
[1] Source: Research among 2,000 UK adults conducted by Opinium, with fieldwork between 12–16 August 2022.

Passing wealth down through the generations

Millions of retirees help out in cost of living crisis.

The rise in the cost of living is affecting millions of people. A third of young adults (18-34) and families with young children are struggling financially. Many are turning to family and friends for help with day-to-day expenses such as utility bills, housing costs and childcare, according to new research[1].

One striking aspect is the extent to which grandparents are stepping in with thousands of pounds of support and helping grandchildren with housing deposits in addition to everyday expenses.

Options available

It’s understandable why grandparents want to help their family and pass wealth down through the generations. When doing this, there are a number of options available, each with different advantages and disadvantages.

Gifting money early can reduce Inheritance Tax liabilities and a grandparent can gift up to £3,000 a year without being added to the value of their estate. Currently, a couple could therefore gift £6,000 a year. If some or all of it was invested in a pension it would receive tax relief.

Gifting money

Grandparents interested in helping a grandchild save for a house could also consider saving into a Lifetime ISA (LISA). Only the child/grandchild, as the account holder, can open and manage their LISA but it’s possible to gift money to an account holder to pay into their LISA.

Those helping grandchildren, the research highlighted, gave £15,000 on average, while 10% gave over £50,000. The main reasons grandparents helped out grandchildren financially were to help with day-to-day costs (43%) and help with bills (37%). One in four (24%) grandparents gave money to help their grandchildren buy a house.

Saving for a child or grandchild

Parents and grandparents have several options when saving for a child or grandchild. Choosing the right one can make a big difference.

Contributing to a pension

Although most people won’t set up a pension until they reach working age, a Junior Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) can be started as soon as someone is born. In addition, any contributions made by a parent or grandparent, which can be made directly to the plan as ‘third-party contributions’, will be treated for tax relief purposes as if they were made by the beneficiary themselves.

This means that contributions paid to a ‘relief at source’ scheme will currently receive tax relief of 20% (£20 for every £80 net contribution) as long as the gross contributions do not exceed the beneficiary’s relevant UK earnings for the tax year or £3,600 if more.

In addition, where a beneficiary has paid Income Tax at a higher rate, they will be able to claim the difference directly from HM Revenue & Customs through self-assessment, so a further 20% for a higher rate (40%) tax payer on some or all of the contributions.

Although a child under the age of 18 is unlikely to have relevant UK earnings, total contributions up to the ‘basic amount’ of £2,880 net (£3,600 gross) can be made each year and will still benefit from tax relief.

Pension contributions can be one of the more tax-efficient ways to gift money to a child or grandchild, but the money is likely to be inaccessible until they reach age 57 (normal minimum pension age is rising from 55 to 57 in April 2028).

Lifetime ISAs (LISAs)

If the child or grandchild is aged between 18 to 40, helping them save into a lifetime ISA (LISA) can be beneficial, especially if they are trying to raise a deposit for a first home. This is because the government will add a 25% bonus to subscriptions of up to £4,000 a year (i.e. £20 for every £80 subscribed).

However, if withdrawals are made for any purpose other than purchasing a first home, a tax penalty of 25% (i.e. £25 on a withdrawal of £100) will apply unless the individual is terminally ill or aged 60 or above. Since the tax penalty exceeds the initial bonus, it is normally not the most tax-efficient investment if the penalty is likely to be incurred.

Only the child or grandchild, as the account holder, can open and manage their LISA but it’s possible to gift money to an account holder to pay into their LISA.

Trusts

For those who want more control over how money is spent, setting up a trust can help ensure any investment is used appropriately. There are a wide variety of trusts that can be used to meet individual requirements.

Source data:
[1] Research from LV= highlights how millions of people have helped friends and family financially in the past six months. The LV= Wealth and Wellbeing Monitor – a quarterly survey of 4,000 UK adults – reveals that many people struggling with everyday living costs are turning to family and friends for support 23/08/22.

A PENSION IS A LONG-TERM INVESTMENT NOT NORMALLY ACCESSIBLE UNTIL AGE 55 (57 FROM APRIL 2028 UNLESS PLAN HAS A PROTECTED PENSION AGE).

THE VALUE OF YOUR INVESTMENTS (AND ANY INCOME FROM THEM) CAN GO DOWN AS WELL AS UP WHICH WOULD HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE LEVEL OF PENSION BENEFITS AVAILABLE.

YOUR PENSION INCOME COULD ALSO BE AFFECTED BY THE INTEREST RATES AT THE TIME YOU TAKE YOUR BENEFITS.

THE VALUE OF YOUR INVESTMENTS CAN GO DOWN AS WELL AS UP AND YOU MAY GET BACK LESS THAN YOU INVESTED.

THE FINANCIAL CONDUCT AUTHORITY DOES NOT REGULATE TAXATION AND TRUST ADVICE. TRUSTS ARE A HIGHLY COMPLEX AREA OF FINANCIAL PLANNING.

How to maximise the value of pension savings

Mistakes to avoid when you’re aiming to build your pension pot.

Many people are feeling the pressure on their finances at the moment due to the backdrop of rising inflation and the cost of living soaring. In these circumstances, it can be difficult to think about your long-term finances or even contemplate saving for the future.

However, even in the current climate there are ways to maximise the value of any pension savings you do have. By sidestepping seven common mistakes, you could take your pension planning to another level and reduce the risk of falling short of money later.

Simple rules to follow when retirement planning and mistakes to avoid

Don’t turn down money from your employer

When offered the opportunity to join a workplace pension, it’s nearly always a good idea to do so. For most people, your employer must automatically enrol you in a workplace pension scheme, and you may even be offered a pension plan if you don’t meet the criteria.

Workplace pension schemes are made up of your own payments (5% or more of earnings), which are deducted from your salary, in some cases before you pay tax, making it easier to save, and your employer’s contribution, which at the very least, must be equivalent to 3% of your qualifying earnings. Many employers offer more than this or match any extra payments you make, so it’s worth checking if you’re getting the most out of this valuable benefit.

Don’t say ‘no’ to extra money from the government

Anyone who decides against investing in a workplace or personal pension also turns down help from the government. That’s because in order to encourage people to save for retirement, the government provides a top-up called ‘tax relief’ to pension payments. How you receive this tax relief depends on the type of plan you have and the rate of income tax you pay.

But as an example, if you’re a basic rate taxpayer saving into a personal pension in the current tax year, you receive 20% tax relief on your payments. So, if you pay £200 a month into your pension plan, the £40 of tax relief you receive on that payment means it will only cost you £160. Higher rate or additional rate taxpayers could claim back even more.

Some workplace pension schemes offer tax relief in a different way, such as through salary sacrifice or exchange schemes, so check with your employer if you’re not sure how this works for you. And in Scotland, the tax relief details differ slightly. But in all these cases, the general point is the same: each time you defer paying into a pension plan, you miss out on an extra boost.

Don’t expect the State Pension to cover everything

Another common mistake is to assume that the State Pension will meet your retirement needs. However, it’s important to know that the State Pension won’t be available until your late 60s and may not cover all of your outgoings.

Currently, pensioners who are entitled to the full new single-tier State Pension receive £185.15 a week in 2022/23, worth £9,627.80 for the year. But remember that what you get depends on your National Insurance record, so you could get less.

Pensioners that reached State Pension age before April 2016 and receive the basic State Pension get £141.85 a week, or £7,376.20 a year.

Don’t lose track of your pension plans

It has never been more important to keep track of all your old pension plans. You are at most risk of having lost track of a pension if you have changed jobs multiple times, moved home often and not updated your pension providers or opted out of SERPS (the State Earnings-Related Pension Scheme) in 1980s or 1990s.

Don’t assume that the minimum is enough

Auto-enrolment has boosted the pension savings of millions of people but the 8% minimum payment may not get you the retirement lifestyle you want. It’s important to therefore have a retirement lifestyle in mind. We can discuss with you how much money you could have in your pension pot in the future, so you can ensure that you don’t find yourself in a situation whereby you have an income shortfall.

Don’t leave your pension pot unloved or neglected

You might not want to talk about your pension plan every day, but dismissing pensions as boring is a mistake, and one that becomes increasingly serious over time. While this might be difficult at the moment, steps such as topping up your payments, especially in your 20s, 30s or early 40s, can make a large difference, thanks to the snowball effect of compounding.

Knowing whether it’s workplace or private, understanding how to get more ‘free’ payments from your employer or the government, or using it to pay less tax (such as through bonus sacrifice) could make a major difference to your long-term finances.

Don’t suppose that one pension plan is the same as another

A related mistake is not knowing where your pension pot is invested, whether that matches your life-stage and priorities or how to choose the right investment options. For example, if your retirement is still some years ahead, you could potentially afford to take a little more risk. Conversely, you may want to dial down the risk as you get nearer to retirement.

A PENSION IS A LONG-TERM INVESTMENT NOT NORMALLY ACCESSIBLE UNTIL AGE 55 (57 FROM APRIL 2028 UNLESS PLAN HAS A PROTECTED PENSION AGE).

THE VALUE OF YOUR INVESTMENTS (AND ANY INCOME FROM THEM) CAN GO DOWN AS WELL AS UP WHICH WOULD HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE LEVEL OF PENSION BENEFITS AVAILABLE.

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Working 9 to 5

More over-65s are still working than six years ago.

More people in the UK aged between 65 and 74 are still working compared to six years ago, new research shows[1]. The findings show there’s a marked increase in the number of people over 65 who remain in the workforce compared to 2016, and a fall in the number drawing their State Pension.

At a time of rising cost of living pressures, the data shows fewer people across all age groups eligible to retire have done so compared to six years ago. The greatest shift has been for those aged between 65 and 74. Whereas 92% of this age group were already retired in 2016, only 79% are now.

Disproportionately impacted

This is due to increases in the State Pension age, which was raised from 65 to 66 between December 2018 and October 2020 – and is set to rise further in future. The increase has disproportionately impacted 65 to 74-year-olds, who have been directly affected by this change in the last six years.

In 2016, 96% of people in this age range said the State Pension accounted for some of their income, compared with 71% now. This represents a 25% decrease in the proportion of people in this age bracket receiving part of their income from the State Pension.

Alternative sources of income

As the State Pension Age continues to rise, this age group will need to plan to find alternative sources of income. The research results show the gap is only partially being plugged by people continuing to work for longer.

There has only been a small rise in those saying wages or other earned income constitute a portion of their overall income – 23% versus 18% in 2016. For a fifth of people in this age bracket, an income gap left by State Pension deferral has not been replaced by wages.

Running out of retirement money

In the UK, the 65 to 74 age group is larger than ever before, according to the 2021 Census statistics[2]. People between those ages now account for almost 19% of the UK population, compared with 16% a decade ago.

For those over 65, money worries about retirement figure more prominently than six years ago. In 2016, only 1% of this cohort said they were worried about running out of money in retirement, while another 1% said they wouldn’t have enough money to fulfil plans and dreams such as travelling. Six years on, the proportion has risen substantially to 11% for both.

Amount of capital held in property

One asset that has grown for this age group, however, is the amount of capital they hold in property. Sixty-five to 74-year-olds have, on average, lived in their current house for 24 years, which means they have benefitted from nearly all the property price increases that have occurred since the late 1990s, when the current property boom began.

In 1998, when this age group typically bought their current house, the average cost of property in the UK was £66,231[3]. The research results show this age group’s property is now worth on average £302,000, more than four times the original purchase price.

Planning for a comfortable retirement

Nearly two-thirds of them own their property outright. Typically, those who do have been in tenure six years longer than those with a mortgage.

This suggests people may have accumulated more wealth in this asset than they realise. As cost of living pressures ramp up, the equity in people’s homes could become increasingly important when looking at ways to plan for a comfortable retirement.

Source data:
[1] Aviva Real Retirement Report conducted by ICM Unlimited April 2016. 1,506 general consumers aged 45+ Research conducted by Censuswide April 2022.
[2] 2021 National Census figures released by ONS
[3] HMLR’s UK House Price Index. www.gov.uk/government/collections/uk-house-price-index-reports