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Pensions freedoms

In March 2014 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a radical reform of the pensions system to give people greater flexibility to access their pension savings. The new pensions freedoms took full effect from 6 April 2015. On this page we highlight a selection of articles, guides and resources that can help you understand the new regime.

ICAEW help and support

The Financial Services Faculty and Personal Financial Planning Community have produced a range of material to help professional advisers get to grips with the new regime, ranging from technical guides to webinars.

Technical guide

A guide produced by the ICAEW and Prudential PLC which looks at the implications of the pension reforms, illustrated with a selection of helpful case studies.

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UK Government

HM Treasury

Plans to introduce pensions flexibility were announced by the Chancellor in Budget 2014 and followed up in the HM Treasury consultation paper 'Freedom and choice in pensions' which was published 19 March 2014. ICAEW's response to the consultation paper was given in TAXREP 34/14 on 11 June 2014.

The government gave their response to the consultation in July 2014 and the resulting legislation received Royal Assent on 4 March 2015, as announced in the press release 'Pension freedoms protected and new breed of pension schemes become law'.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)

HMRC published an Pension flexibility 2016 Tax Information and Impact Note in March 2016 which summarised minor changes being made to the pensions tax rules following the introduction of pension flexibility in April 2015. This updated the now withdrawn Pension flexibility 2015 Note summarising the proposed revisions to tax legislation.

On 12 February 2015 HMRC published a short document titled Pension flexibility: new options from 6 April 2015, which provided a brief explanation of how the new options will be taxed.

HMRC publish official statistics on the number and value of flexible payments made from pensions since April 2015.

Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)

DWP published guidance on Pension flexibilities and DWP benefits on 27 March 2015. The fact sheet explains how the new pension flexibilities could affect someone’s future entitlement to benefits.

Work and Pensions Committee

On 5 April 2018 the Committee published the final report of its Pension freedom and choice inquiry. The Committee made a number of recommendations, calling for a new simple standard drawdown pension. 

Following on from this work, a Pension costs and transparency inquiry was launched, seeking views on whether the pensions industry provides sufficient transparency around charges, investment strategy and performance to consumers. The deadline for submissions was 3 September 2018. 

ICAEW

The Financial Services Faculty and Personal Financial Planning Community have produced a range of material to help professional advisers get to grips with the new regime, including a technical guide which looks at the implications of the pension reforms, illustrated with a selection of helpful case studies.

Useful links

Guides and publications

New pension flexibilities from 6 April 2015: Checklist of actions for defined benefit schemes
Checklist published by consultants Lane Clark & Peacock (LCP) in March 2015 to help companies assess whether they have everything in place for the new pension flexibilities that are effective from 6 April 2015.

Communicating and reporting guide 
A Pensions Regulator guide on communicating with members about pension flexibilities, aimed at trustees, administrators and advisers of occupational pension schemes that provide flexible benefits. Published in July 2016.

Professionals' guide to drawdown
An annual guide commissioned by Prudential from Defaqto. It aims to cover all of the key information pension professionals need to know when advising on defined contribution (DC) schemes. It also takes a broad look at the industry following the introduction of pension freedoms. Updated in April 2018. Requires free registration to download.

PS18/6: Advising on pension transfers
Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules and guidance on how advice should be provided to consumers considering giving up safeguarded benefits, primarily for transfers from defined benefit to defined contribution pension schemes. Published in March 2018. 

Organisations

Pension wise
Guidance service established by the government to offer free and impartial guidance to people on the new pension freedoms.

The Pensions Regulator
Official website for the UK regulator of work-based pension schemes. The regulator has issued a number of updates on the new pensions flexibilities for individuals in defined contribution schemes, including a dedicated page for business advisers advising clients on their retirement options.

Research

Hitting the target: A vision for retirement income adequacy
Report from the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA), outlining the PLSA's policy recommendations in several areas related to pension freedoms and savings. Published in July 2018 as part of the PLSA's Hitting the Target project, which aims to assess the success of current UK pensions policy and practices.

How are DC schemes adapting to freedom and choice?
A 2018 DC scheme survey published by Lane Clark & Peacock (LCP), investigating whether schemes are truly offering flexibility and if their investment strategies are offering appropriate levels of risk and return.

Pension freedoms: no more normal
A PLSA research paper providing insight on the experience and consumer journey of the first cohort of savers who have been able to access the recently introduced pension freedoms. Published in January 2016 as part of PLSA's Understanding Retirement research series.

Articles and books

The ICAEW Library and Information Service holds a collection of articles and books on the law and taxation of pensions, including some material on the new legislation. The collection also includes a reference copy of the comprehensive five volume Pensions legislation service.

To find out how you can borrow books from the Library please see our guide to book loans. You can obtain copies of articles or extracts of books and reports by post, fax or email through our document supply service.

Selected articles and digests

Pensions update
Thomas, M., LexisNexis, 2018, Tolley's Tax Digest no.188
Tax digest on the latest developments in the pensions tax landscape, taking into account the Autumn Budget 2017; Finance Act 2004 (Standard Lifetime Allowance) Regulations 2018; the Finance (No 2) Act 2017; the Finance Act 2018; and the DWP White Paper 'Protecting Defined Benefit Pension Schemes'.
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The price of pension freedoms
Adams, D., Economia, 5 September 2018
Pensions freedoms have been lauded as putting people in control of their money, but how is the legislation affecting employers? David Adams looks at the trends.

Further articles and books

Can't find what you are looking for?

If you're having trouble finding the information you need, ask the Library & Information Service. Contact us by telephone on +44 (0)20 7920 8620, by web chat or by email at library@icaew.com.

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