Osborne reveals new pension plans (not his, sadly)
The rules were launched by Trouble-haired chancellor George Osborne, following his announcement earlier this year when he scrapped a rule forcing people to buy an annuity, and thus freaked out insurers the land over.
Osborne is keen to allow people to tap into the cash they set aside during their working life by reducing tax penalties imposed on those who withdraw their savings in a lump sum.
On Monday, the government confirmed its intention to go ahead with such plans, seen as the biggest reform of pensions in a generation, and added details to its proposals following a consultation with industry, employers and consumer groups.
Osborne said: "It's right to support hard working people that have taken the long-term decision to save for their future and I'm pleased that the responses we had to our proposals on making pensions more flexible have been overwhelmingly positive,"
"The government believes that the overall impact ... is likely to be limited," it said. "It is expected that there will still be a strong continuing demand for high-quality fixed-income assets, including government and corporate bonds."
It all sounds quite good, but there are worries that the changes will allow pensioners to piss away all their savings while giddy in the first flush of freedom. Osborne, with his legendary charm, has rejected this idea.
It was all panic when Osborne first announced the shake-up earlier this year, it hit the share value of firms like Legal and General, Aviva and Standard Life who run annuities businesses. The shares have since recovered slightly, but remain below their pre-announcement levels.
The finance ministry said that after consultation, the industry estimated that only 10-20 percent of people in defined-benefit pension schemes would transfer out of them. Some pension schemes might need to hold more liquid assets as a result, however.
A summary of the consultation said the financial guidance provided to retirees would be provided independently and funded by a levy on regulated financial services firms.
All good news for anyone with a pension then. Oh.