What is a Pension?
The UK pensions system is unnecessarily complicated and seems to be changing as often as your kids need new shoes!
MMM has taken out the complexity and brings you the information you need to know – don’t worry, we will keep you posted with all changes in the law, so everything here is always up-to-date.
So what is a pension and why do I need one? Pensions are savings vehicles that allow you to put money away for your old age.
If you are a UK taxpayer, then you should certainly save for a pension. The younger you start, the better – and if you haven’t already, then don’t worry, it’s never too late.
The amount of state pension you get will depend in how many years of national insurance contributions you have paid and the earliest you will get it is when you reach state pension age – and with state pension age constantly rising, it could be a long wait.
State pension age has changed over the years. As it stands now, the state pension age is between 60 – 65 for women and 65 for men.
The state pension age has been increasing for women since April 2010 and by 2020, for both men and women it will be age 66.
It is likely to then go up to age 67 by 2028.
This is all because people are living for longer and the government can simply no longer afford to pay pensions earlier. People may therefore find themselves working for longer and delaying retirement.
How much state pension you get depends on how many years of national insurance contributions you have. To get the full basic state pension, women and men hitting state pension age after 5 April 2010 need 30 years – so you will need to work most of your life to get the full amount.
Full basic pension = £113.10 per week
You may not have enough national insurance contributions if you have had a long career break, for example.
Women and Pensions
Women are by far the greatest victims of poverty in retirement, with many failing to plan for, or understand, pensions.
Many think the state pension will cover them, but women in fact are the ones that often do not accumulate a full state pension because they do not have enough national insurance contributions of 30 years.
Career breaks, maternity leave, and lower pay are some reasons why women may be subject to smaller pensions.
If you are still working, there are things you can do now to ensure you give yourself the best income opportunity for when you retire.
From October 2012, everyone employed in the UK aged over 22 and earning over £9,440 a year will be automatically enrolled into a pension scheme by their employer.
This means that millions of people will for the first time have access to a pension scheme and be forced to save for their retirement.
You will either be placed into your employer’s own scheme or one run by the government, known as Nest. You can read more about Nest here.
According to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), around 4.3 million will be auto-enrolled by May 2015 under the new pensions regime.
You can opt out, but it is essential that you save for your retirement. By opting out, you will also miss out of tax relief and your employer’s contribution.
The reason why the government has pushed for a pensions saving scheme that automatically enrols people is because people are living for longer, making pensions more expensive – so everyone should start planning for retirement as early as possible.
We all sometimes need a little extra help.
The Pensions Advisory Service can give you guidance as well as help you resolve disputes.
The Pensions Advisory Service is free and an independent non-profit organisation.
Lost a pension?
If you thank you may have pension benefits somewhere out there but cannot get in touch with the scheme, the Pension Tracing Service may be able to help.
More people are beginning to realise that they need to start saving for a pension and that the younger the better. But how much you should stash away for old age can be difficult to work out and very much depends on your age, your employment situation and affordability.