Small pension pot refunds to be banned

Jam jar and money
Image caption Small pension pots will have to stay invested, and not taken as cash refunds

People with small pots of money in defined-contribution pension schemes will be stopped from cashing them in if they leave after less than two years.

The government says it will change the law so people cannot take refunds which then leave them without a pension.

At the moment, the law lets people take a refund of their own contributions if they have paid in for less than two years.

The idea has been welcomed by the National Association of Pension Funds.

Pensions Minister Steve Webb said: "I am concerned that people are at risk of losing their small pension pots as they move from job to job."

"I do not want to see people who are doing the right thing by saving, ending up with very little for their retirement because the system is too complicated.

"I want to make it as easy as possible for people to grow big fat pension pots," he said.

The government is also going to look at ways to make it easier for people to transfer their various pension pots and amalgamate them into a single larger one.

Darren Philp, director of policy at the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF), said: "Workers changing their job often find it difficult to transfer their pension pot when they move to a new company.

"Auto-enrolment will bring millions more workers into pensions saving.

"But without action to make it easier for workers to transfer their pension pot when they move job, much of this new saving will end up stranded in small pots," he added.

Auto-enrolment is the government's plan under which private sector employers, from October 2012, will be obliged to enrol several million staff into existing company pension schemes - or equivalent ones such as the National Employment Savings Trust (Nest).

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