Govt. urged to allow flexible state pension withdrawals

The Government is being urged to allow workers to make flexible withdrawals from their state pension.

A report from Aviva claimed this would enable a phased approach to retirement as more people continue to work past their state pension age.

Over-55s can make flexible withdrawals from their defined contribution pensions, but those rules do not apply to the state pension.

Flexible withdrawals of the state pension, the report argued, would remove the "all or nothing" choice workers currently face.

This would allow them to claim part of the state pension from their age of entitlement, instead of having to claim it in full or defer it.

Any unclaimed state pension amount currently increases in value by the equivalent of 5.8% a year.

State pension entitlement

In 2019/20, workers who have reached their entitlement age can claim the full state pension, which is worth £168.60 a week or £8,767.20 a year.

To claim the full amount of the new state pension, savers need to have made 35 full years of national insurance contributions in their working lives.

The basic state pension is paid to people who reached their state pension age before April 2016 and is worth £129.20 a week or £6,718.40 a year.

Future annual rises to the state pension are determined by the triple-lock guarantee, as has been the case since 2010.

This is the higher of September's Consumer Price Index's rate of inflation, earnings growth, or 2.5%.

The highest measure used for 2020/21 was average earnings, which guarantees pensioners a 3.9% boost - or a £343.20 pay rise for the year.

Regulated advice

While the report said changing these rules would enable workers to have a phased approach to retirement that would help them save more for later life, it also warned of the need to seek advice to make the correct choice.

As such, the Government should increase efforts to narrow a perceived advice gap caused by many savers not accessing regulated advice.

Lindsey Rix, chief executive officer of UK savings and retirement at Aviva, said:

"There are several actions the Government and employers could consider to better support workers in the over-45s age group.

"We believe the choice between claiming 0 or 100% of the state pension no longer reflects our increasingly flexible working lives.

"We are calling on the Government to allow individuals to make flexible withdrawals from their state pension when they reach their state pension age.

"We want to work with the Government and regulators to make sure that suitable advice is accessible and affordable for the majority, within a properly regulated framework."

Big role to play

Despite the state pension no longer being enough to rely on, the report claimed it does provide the largest single source of retirement income for the average UK retiree and many of those are working for longer.

Rix added: "There is a huge demand for a fuller working life among those over-45s, however, we believe the state pension age acts as an artificial hard line in the working lives of many.

"If we fail to prepare for an ageing workforce, the consequences will be damaging for generations to come.

"Not only could we see an increase in poverty in retirement, but also a greater strain on our working population."

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