August 12, 2014

Bill Esterson



People in their mid-50s could have to pay charges running into thousands of pounds to access their pension pot next year.

George Osborne, the Chancellor, was widely applauded when he gave people the legal right to access their pensions when they turned 55 rather than having to buy an annuity.

Under the plans people can take out as much of their pension as they want and spend it as they see fit.

But it has emerged pension companies will not be forced to bring in the new freedoms, and some may not have the technology available to offer them.

Instead the Treasury said if companies are unable to release the cash, people can move their pensions although this might incur an exit charge.

This could potentially be over 20 per cent of their investment, as some policies impose charges of four per cent for each year pension holders 'go early'.

According to the government, most people would be able to transfer without charges but "a small number of schemes may apply a charge and we would encourage individuals to check their scheme rules". 

 
The worry is that the pensions companies might decide to charge people anyway.

Some policyholders will be very surprised to be told, come April, that they can’t have their money.

A survey by The Sunday Times found that Equitable Life, which has 345,000 customers, was unable to say if its customers would be able to cash in their pensions.

Other pension providers – like Legal & General with around seven million savers – said that some policy holders might have to switch to more modern contracts to benefit from the changes.

The government is saying that the pension fund is your money and you should be able to take out how much you want when you want it. But the companies may not let you do that because their systems are so inflexible and the type of product you are in means you can’t do it. 
 
The bottom line is that if you want your money you might just have to pay a huge penalty. 
 
It seems that the government has promised pensioners a new deal that may not add up to much if anything at all.
 
 

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