UK State Pension Planning
The UK State Pension has always been a hot-topic for debate and government tool at election time.
You may have seen in the news that the State Pension Age for women has risen to match that of men. While gender equality is of course fair, the way they have snatched a ‘promised’ income away from women seems unjust. The cost of the State Pension meant the government had to draw a line in the sand somehow, but those women with a financial plan in place have seen a guaranteed income delayed by years with little warning.
The nation’s trust in the UK government to provide a worthwhile state pension income is wavering.
Will the UK State Pension disappear?
We don’t believe the State Pension will be fully removed. It will likely continue to be toyed with around election time, but remains a staple of the UK benefit system. But, be wary of potential future means-testing and the sectioning-off of its benefit structure. When planning ahead, see the State Pension as a compliment, a bonus to look forward to; a retirement payrise when you reach the age of eligibility.
How to plan with the State Pension
Relying on the UK state pension as the central tool in your retirement plan is not a good strategy. At the least, the age of its availability will inevitably increase with life expectancy. It could become means-tested, or higher national insurance contributions may be required to achieve a worthwhile income level.
If you haven’t yet reached State Pension Age, you’ll be at least 66 years before you’re eligible. If you were born in 1961, it will be closer to age 67, and is rising further for the younger population. For births in 1978, State Pension will be from at least age 68, and we don’t think they’ve stopped tinkering yet.
Calculate your UK state pension entitlement
For the most accurate estimate of your UK State Pension, use the UK government’s gateway tools.
The State Pension does offer a very valuable secure income for life. It offers inflationary benefits, meaning its real-value will maintain over time. The rising State Pension age shouldn’t mean a rising retirement age for you. With good planning, you can use private pensions as a gap-fill, especially now they offer total control over pension withdrawals.
By using a private pension, such as a SIPP or QROPS, you can withdraw income to best suit you. We find many early retirees take a high income in those early years of retirement, before being able to turn this income down to a modest amount when they take their State Pension.
Using pensions to generate variable income, is termed ‘flexi-access drawdown’ and can be achieved with a private pension. Alternatively, you may choose to plug gaps with ISA savings or by the sale of a property.
Over the long-term, the state pension should act as a secure ‘backbone’ of income. It normally covers essential expenditure for pensioners without a mortgage. Then, all flexible wealth can be used to nicely compliment this, in a tax efficient way.
Speak to your adviser about long-term retirement planning. If you’re not yet ready to speak to an adviser, research your plans using our FREE toolkit, understand your pension benefits and options by reading our free guides, and set your retirement financial goals using our FREE online calculators.