Pensions industry warns against early access to savings

Image caption,
It's thought that 7 million people don't save enough for their retirement

Plans to let people take money out of their pensions in their 30s could increase dependency on the state, according to one industry group.

The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF), which represents 1,200 schemes, says the proposals could leave people short of funds in retirement.

The government is keen to consider the idea of early access, to encourage more people to save for their pensions.

Ministers will examine the results of a consultation before making a decision.

'A huge upheaval'

At the moment only those who are older than 55 can access their savings with a company pension scheme. The government thinks people should be able to access them in their 30s.

The Chief Executive of the NAPF, Joanne Segars, warns that letting people dip into their pensions would be "a huge upheaval for pensions funds, for really very little benefit."

"There is little evidence to show that giving people early access would either increase the amount people save, or get them saving in the first place", she says. "We think this could be very, very confusing for individuals."

The Association thinks that taking out a small amount could leave a large hole in final pensions, leaving people reliant on the state. It also warns that more complex administration could drive up the cost of having a pension.

The government says it is committed to encouraging saving, and wants to give individuals the maximum flexibility and responsibility to save for retirement.

In a statement it said: "Early access is an idea the government is keen to consider. An informal consultation closed on Friday and the government will now make a decision on whether to develop more detailed proposals in the light of the responses received."

The Director General of the Saga group, Dr Ros Altmann, thinks the proposed change is an "absolutely excellent idea".

"The problem we have at the moment is people feel, certainly if you are in your 20s and 30s, that by putting money into a pension that money is confiscated from them, because they can't get it back until they are in their 50s."

She said: "There are lots of people at the moment who have got tens of thousands of pounds in a pension fund who are having their houses repossessed, because they can't get the money."

The Department for Work and Pensions estimates that around 7 million working age people are currently not saving enough for their retirement.

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