Work needed to improve pensions saving habit

We all need to work harder at saving for retirement. That’s the view of the government, and of advisors who are pitching their views in a government consultation currently going on. But while the fact that a consultation is taking place is good news, concerns remain that the average consumer knows too little about this most important part of their retirement planning.

Just 27% of people surveyed recently said they feel “very informed” about pensions, while it is estimated that almost 12 million people are saving too little for retirement. However, a good number of those could hit their retirement income targets, with a little help and assistance.

Towers Watson says retirement saving needs to be encouraged, and made simple. Their white paper submitted to government is titled Strengthening the Incentive to Save.

The company’s managing director Tom Ball noted: “The tax system ought to provide incentives for people to save for retirement. The Government should retain the idea that retirement savings are kept separate from, and be taxed more favourably than, other savings.”

“The current pensions taxation regime does need simplification, but we believe that this is both possible and practical within the existing taxation system.”

The new pension freedoms came into effect in April 2015, allowing those over 55 to use their pension pot more flexibly than before, when there was an obligation to purchase an annuity. However, there are concerns that many people are unaware of their options. A survey from Old Mutual Wealth, quoted in the City AM newspaper, reckons just 20% of people have a good understanding of drawdown, and how it works.

And few of those looking for drawdown options are shopping around, to get the best deal. The Daily Mail reported in September that official figures show 45% of savers opting for drawdown have simply taken the first deal their pension provider offered them. Around £1.3 billion has been invested in drawdown in the first six months since pension freedoms were introduced.