The UK is facing a challenge – we are not saving enough for the future. We all want to retire someday and you can’t keep relying on that lottery win to see you through – the time has come to take your future into your hands.

Below are some frequently asked questions about pensions:

What is a pension?

A pension is a long-term investment that has generous tax benefits and simply aims to provide you with an income for later life or when you retire. When you do/or if you decide to stop work, you will no longer have your salary and you will still have bills to pay.
There are three main types of pensions to consider: State Pension, company or workplace pension and personal pension (also know as private pensions).

Why do I need a pension?

You don’t have to take out a pension but if you still want to maintain a comfortable lifestyle when you stop working you’ll need to save some of your own money.

What is the state pension?

The State Pension is a regular payment from the government that you can get when you reach State Pension age for the rest of your life. The State Pension is funded by National Insurance contributions (NICs) and to get it depends on how much you’ve accumulated.
Your National Insurance contributions are paid during your working life. In some cases you may have been given National Insurance credits, for example if you’ve been a parent or a carer, or in receipt of certain benefits.
The current State Pension is changing and a new system is being introduced, which will affect people reaching State Pension age from 6 April 2016 onwards.
To calculate when you’ll reach State Pension age or Pension Credit qualifying age and how much you may get, visit: https://www.gov.uk/calculate-state-pension

What is a company/workplace pension?

A company or workplace pension scheme is a pension set up by your employer. You will be required to make regular pension contributions based on a percentage of your salary. Your employer will also pay into it and the government will pay into it in the form of tax relief.
New rules brought in by the government called ‘automatic-enrolment’ means that employers have to enrol their eligible workers into a workplace pension scheme. This is being phased in and it started with the largest UK employers. All eligible employees should be enrolled into a workplace pension by October 2018. As an employee, you can choose to opt out of this pension if you want to.

What pension can I get if I'm self-employed?

Unlike employed workers whose employers are obliged to automatically enrol certain workers to a workplace pension, if you’re self-employed then you can set up a personal pension to save for your retirement. You can add regular contributions or make ad hoc payments into your pension, your pension provider will claim tax relief and add it to your pension pot.

What is a personal pension?

A personal/private pension is a type of defined contribution pension scheme. This is usually something you arrange yourself and you will pay regular monthly amounts or a lump sum to a pension provider who invests it on your behalf. Your pension contributions attract tax relief. You can still take out a personal pension even if you are paying into a workplace pension scheme.

What is a SIPP?

A self Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) is a type of personal pension. A SIPP is a pension plan that gives you total freedom and control over the investment decisions made.

What is a Stakeholder pension?

Stakeholder pensions work in a similar manner to personal pensions. They have to meet certain government standards, which are designed to make sure they are good value. Stakeholder pensions are individual contracts between you, the member, and the pension provider.

What does Defined Contribution & Defined Benefit mean?

There are two main types of workplace pension schemes. Defined contribution (or money purchase) is the more common. This is where your pension pot is put into various types of investment, such as stocks and shares. Most company pension schemes are now defined contribution.
Defined benefit schemes (sometimes called a final salary pension scheme) is a scheme that promises to pay out an income based on how much you earn when you retire. Many defined benefit schemes have closed over recent years.

Where does my pension go?

The money you pay in towards your pension goes to a pension provider (if it’s a workplace pension your employer will select the provider) and they use it to buy investments, like stocks and shares, with the aim of growing it over the years before you retire.

What are the advantages of saving into a pension?
  • One main advantage of a pension is the tax relief.
  • When you are enrolled into a workplace pension your employer will usually match or better your contributions, so this essentially doubles the funding of your pension.
  • Your pension grows largely tax free, which can help to boost the amount you will have.
  • You can take 25% of your pension pot as a tax-free lump sum when you reach age 55. (Depending on your pension scheme rules).
  • You can do anything you like with your cash.
When can I get my pension?

The earliest you can access a pension is age 55 (age 57 by 2028). You don’t have to retire or stop working to take your money.

Are pensions safe?

No savings, including pensions are entirely risk free. The value of your pension can go up as well as down. There are controls in place to minimise risks to pensions. If your employer goes bust you’re usually protected. If your pension provider goes bust and cannot pay your pension you should be able to get compensation. (How your pension is protected depends on the type of scheme).

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