Retirement lottery warning over UK minimum pension age plans

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Retirement lottery warning over UK minimum pension age plans

UK Government plans to increase the age savers can first access their pension from 55 to 57 risk creating a ‘retirement lottery', platform provider AJ Bell has warned.

It said the problem centres on proposals to allow people with an ‘unqualified right' to access their pension from age 55 on 11 February 2021 to retain this provided they do not transfer to a different scheme.

This would create a complex two-tier system, with some people randomly able to access their pension from 55 and others unable to do so until age 57, AJ Bell argued.

Increasing the ‘normal minimum pension age’ to 57 for everyone, except members of the armed forces, police and fire service, would be infinitely simpler and better."

The UK Treasury's consultation on how to implement the increase in the normal minimum pension age closes to responses today (22 April).

AJ Bell's response urges policymakers to take a simpler approach by increasing the pension access age to 57 for everyone by 2028.

Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell, said: "The Government's proposed approach to increasing the age people can first access their pension pot from 55 to 57 risks creating a retirement lottery based on how their scheme rules have been written.

"Specifically, those who are deemed to have an ‘unqualified right' to access their retirement pot at age 55 as at 11 February 2021 would be able to retain it, provided they do not transfer to another scheme from that date, unless special circumstances apply.

"This would, entirely arbitrarily, create a world where some people can access their pension from age 55 and others from age 57. Many people would find themselves in the ludicrous position of having two otherwise similar pension pots which can be accessed from different ages."

Selby added: "This approach risks creating damaging and entirely avoidable complexity. Furthermore, those who randomly find themselves in a scheme which allows access at age 55 may be deterred from moving their pension elsewhere, even if this is in their best interests to take advantage of lower costs, more investment options or better administration.

"This would clearly be a deeply undesirable outcome and must be avoided at all costs. Increasing the ‘normal minimum pension age' to 57 for everyone, except members of the armed forces, police and fire service, would be infinitely simpler and better reflect the policy intention of increasing the age at which people can normally access their pension in line with rising average life expectancy."

The ‘normal minimum pension age' or NMPA is the youngest age someone can access their pension tax efficiently in the UK. The NMPA is currently age 55 but the Government intends to increase it to age 57 by April 2028.

A Government consultation outlining how the transition from age 55 to 57 would be managed was published in February.