Jeff Prestridge  

Keeping pensions front of mind

Jeff Prestridge

Jeff Prestridge

Pension Awareness Day. The day of the year when we are all encouraged to think about saving more for our retirement.

Of course, if you have stumbled on this piece on Thursday September 17, or later, you might think you have missed the event, but do not fear. Although September 15 was awareness day, the pensions initiative goes on until September 18.

The brainchild of Pensions Geeks, whose admirable mission is to help improve the nation’s financial capability, Pension Awareness Day has been running since 2014.

It has attracted some heavyweight sponsors along the way, including the Department for Work and Pensions, Now Pensions, Royal London and the Money and Pensions Service.

I cannot say I have been overwhelmed by the campaign over the years, but financial advisers may think differently. If so, I am happy to stand corrected.

This time around, the coronavirus pandemic has put a slight spanner in the works. 

Instead of workshops and a touring double decker pensions bus, the main focus will be on live pension awareness webinars.

Reading through the planned events, there should be some entertainment along the way – I am particularly keen on listening to ‘kids taking on pensions minister Guy Opperman’ (September 17, midday). There is also a commendable focus on the many issues that women face in securing a financially robust retirement.

Of course, you could argue that there are far more important issues presently facing this country than encouraging people to think more about building a pension.

Innovative ways of keeping a lid on unemployment are a priority as well as ensuring swathes of our economy – airports, airlines, travel companies, retailers, our city and town centres – are kept intact.

After all, if we have not got a job to go to, there will be no work pension to contribute into.

Most importantly, we need to do all we can to purge the country and the world of the wicked virus that is Covid-19.

Yet pensions – and encouraging as many people as possible to save for retirement – must not be pushed into the hedgerow.

We still need to ensure people maximise the incentives available to them to build retirement wealth and secure financial independence in later life.

Better for us and the government if more of us are not dependent upon benefits in retirement. So, yes, the nation is a better one for having a Pension Awareness Day. Hats off to Pensions Geeks.

Sadly, the pensions backdrop this year around is riddled with more uncertainty than ever. Yet again, speculation is rife that the government will curb the tax incentives that make pensions so special to so many people.

We have heard such rumours before in the run-up to previous Budgets, only for the incumbent chancellor of the exchequer to do the square root of nothing.