There was scarcely a mention of the ‘P’ word in October’s Budget speech (believe us, we were listening closely for it!). Instead, Hammond used the Budget speech as an opportunity to unveil his ‘rabbit in the hat’ changes to income tax thresholds, an increase in NHS mental health funding and a ban on future PFI contracts.
However, we had a good read of the accompanying ‘Red Book’ for any mention of pensions. At 106 pages, this was no mean feat. Fortunately, though, it was time well spent as we found some changes to pensions you may otherwise have missed:
The pension dashboard
HM Treasury confirmed that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) would look at designing a pension dashboard which would include your state pension. The pensions dashboard will be an online platform that will let you see all of your pension schemes in a single view. The average worker is nowadays expected to work eleven jobs during their career and keeping track of so many pension pots could prove confusing to say the least.
There was an extra £5 million of funding for the DWP to help make the pension dashboard a reality. Commentators see the dashboard as a welcome sign that the government is committed to helping savers keep track of their funds.
Patient capital funding
The government announced a pensions investment package which should make it easier for direct contribution pension schemes to invest in patient capital. Patient capital refers to investments that forgo immediate returns in anticipation of more substantial returns further down the line.
The government may review the 0.75% charge cap and there is widespread speculation that it will be increased to allow more investment in high growth companies.
Cold calling ban
The government has promised to ban pensions cold calling as part of a drive against pension scammers. Almost two years since the government’s initial proposals to combat pension scams were announced, pensions cold calling will finally be made illegal.
Research by Prudential indicates that one in 10 over 55s fear they have been targetted by pensions scammers since the introduction of pension freedoms in 2015. Cold calls, with offers to unlock or transfer funds, are a frequently used tactic to defraud people of their retirement savings.
As much as these measures go a long way to making people’s pensions more secure, the government will be powerless to enforce cold calls made from abroad and not on behalf of a UK company. It is unclear how and if the government will work with international regulators to mitigate the dangers of such calls.