Pensioners risk running out of cash due to pension reforms, warns Age UK

A considerable number of pensioners could run out of cash by the age of 75. This would be the result of new pension reforms, charity Age UK warned on Saturday.

Reforms come into effect in April 2015, after which people can withdraw money from their fund. Age UK carried out a new analysis. It showed, however, a huge number of elderly Brits running out of money.

Stronger safeguards for pensioners required

Age UK says that this is going to happen unless there are stronger safeguards.

The analysis was based on a pension pot of £29,000, which is well above average pension savings. If somebody withdrew £3,000 per year from the age of sixty-five, and returns on the spare savings were 3%, by the time he/she reached the age of 75 the savings would have run out.

If the yearly withdrawal increased by an estimated annual rate of inflation, that person’s savings would be wiped out by the age of 74, the authors added.

Obviously, the less people withdrew each year, the longer the savings would last. Withdrawing £2,000 annually would result in pensioners using uo their savings by the age of 81 (or 80 if increased according to inflation).

Caroline Abrahams
People need to be able to trust the financial services in which we have invested, says Ms. Abrahams. (Image: Age UK).

Even a higher return, for example of 5%, would mean that somebody withdrawing £3,000 annually would run out of money by the age of 76 (or 75 if they increased with inflation).

Even modest withdrawals could leave people short

Average life expectancy in the UK for somebody aged 65 is 83 for men and nearly 86 for women. This means that even modest withdrawals would result in a considerable number of pensioners having to survive for several years with no private pension income. “For many this will mean life will become financially much tougher with some struggling to make ends meet,” Age UK wrote.

Charge caps

The authors also say that unless charge caps and quality standards are introduced on income drawdown products, individuals who invest their pension pots risk losing thousands of pounds of potential income.

For example, £29,000 invested in a high charging drawdown product, withdrawing £2,000 annually, with an initial set-up charge of 2%, additional annual 2% management fees, plus £150 in annual administration charge, would provide £11,000 lower income than a similar product with a single low charge of 0.75%, the authors calculated.

For somebody relying on this income to get by financially later in life, £11,000 is a great deal of money.

Age UK wrote:

“Despite the planned introduction of pensions guidance in April for those reaching pension age, Age UK is concerned that the new pension reforms – the most radical changes to private pensions in a generation – do not include enough safeguards to help people understand the impact of their decisions about their pension pots and to help them make the most of their savings.”

Eight-point plan

Age UK has put forward an 8-point plan that the Government and regulators need to take to give pensioners increased financial safeguards and confidence in the pensions industry.

The plan includes the introduction of additional money-management tools to help individuals avoid running out of funds or paying too much tax unnecessarily if they withdraw money too quickly.

Age UK says it is also calling for “the introduction of quality standards and regulation of charges for retirement income products likely to be introduced by the financial industry in the wake of the April’s reforms.”

The charity says that the Government needs to take action to prevent any increase in pension scams following the reforms. “Pension liberation scams have already cost £495 million,” the charity pointed out.

Age UK comment

Charity Director of Age UK, Caroline Abrahams, said:

“We welcome people having more flexibility in how to use their pension savings. But that makes it even more important that we fully understand the implications and consequences of our financial decisions and can trust the financial services in which we have invested.”

“That’s why we believe that there must be additional checks and balances introduced to the pensions legislation in addition to the impartial guidance that will be available. This is too important to leave to chance. We believe, if implemented, our eight point plan would give people the added security and reassurance they need to know that they are making the most of their hard earned savings.”