Jeff Prestridge  

Keeping pensions front of mind

Jeff Prestridge

Jeff Prestridge

But this time around it feels as if higher rate relief on pension contributions will be sacrificed as part of the chancellor’s shoring up of the country’s finances.

The saving perk now seems a little too generous. He could go further and restrict the right of retirees to take a slice of tax-free cash from their pension fund, but I feel that would be a step too far – and be fiendishly complicated to implement.

The other big pensions elephant in the room is the transfer minefield. Most financial advisers are walking away from the pension transfer market as a result of regulatory overload and a reluctance among most insurers to provide sensibly priced professional indemnity cover.

A recent survey by Royal London indicated that more than 40 per cent of advisers currently offering transfer advice are unsure whether they will be doing so this time next year.

Given the dearth of advisers prepared to operate in this space, it is not surprising that some people who are determined to transfer are falling into the hands of scammers.

Urgent action is needed to address this issue. Royal London and LCP have proposed the greater use of ‘approved’ adviser panels by pension schemes.

This would ensure that members wanting to transfer would get advice from a vetted and trustworthy adviser. This all seems eminently sensible – provided these approved advisers can get affordable PI cover.

As does a call from the Police Foundation and The People’s Pension for greater powers to be given to pension schemes to stop ‘suspect’ transfers.

Currently, pension scammers are having a field day. It is high time the government launched an assault on these thieves and wiped them from the face of the earth.

Enjoy Pension Awareness Day.

Jeff Prestridge is personal finance editor of The Mail on Sunday