Pensions 

Advisers welcome proposals to simplify Lisa

Advisers welcome proposals to simplify Lisa

Advisers have welcomed proposals to simplify the Lifetime Isa (Lisa).

The right-wing think tank Bright Blue has called on HM Treasury, which is currently reviewing the Lisa, to support the savings of younger generations by reforming the product. 

Bright Blue proposed that contributions should be permitted from birth but the 25 per cent bonuses should not be available until 18, with no access permitted until that age.

At the moment the Lisa is only available to those aged between 18 and 40.

In addition, the think tank proposed the contributions age ceiling should be removed and any contributions made from age 50 onwards should be locked in for at least 10 years with allied bonuses.

The think tank also called on the Treasury to reduce the withdrawal charge from 25 per cent to 20 per cent to reduce the complexity of cash withdrawals. 

Bright Blue said employee contributions made under auto enrollment should be eligible for payment into a Lisa, attracting the 25 per cent bonus by giving individuals the opportunity to build up savings from birth and a means of building a lump sum to be used as a deposit on a first home. 

The think tank has said the lump sums should have the added benefit of a government bonus to boot.  

National IFA firm LEBC said limiting the claw back on the government bonus to 20 per cent, rather than the current 25 per cent of any withdrawal not used for a first-time home purchase would be fairer.  

Kay Ingram, director of public policy at LEBC, said simplifying the Lisa would make it more popular with young savers.

"Young people get old and need to start saving with an eye on their income in retirement from an early age as an equally important priority," Ms Ingram said.

"Diverting all their savings towards buying a home, whilst understandable, will only inflate already bloated house prices and could result in them having to downsize in retirement dramatically if they end up with insufficient income.

"Employers make a significant contribution to workplace pension schemes, with many contributing well above the auto-enrollment minimum.

"Paying into individual Lisas would pose practical difficulties for employers. It would also dilute the buying power which workplace pension schemes can provide, giving members lower costs and access to regulated advice subsidised by the employer."

Martin Bamford, financial planner and director at Informed Choice, said: "Simplifying the Isa regime is really important.

"The Lisa was a flop in part due to lack of availability from providers. If HM Treasury was able to merge the Junior Isa with the Lisa, it would encourage more providers to bring a product to market.  

"Wider availability would encourage greater savings levels in these products. Of course what the government really need to do is pass policy decisions for savings and retirement to an independent body, in the same way they did for monetary policy and the Bank of England.

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