Steve Webb

How safe is my company pension?

If you are receiving a final salary company pension or expect to receive one in the future, high-profile corporate failures such as those of BHS and Carillion serve as a reminder that your pension is only as secure as the company running it.

To be more precise, some of your pension may be at risk if your current or former employer goes bust at a time when there is a shortfall in its pension fund. But how likely is this, what safeguards are in place and what are the pension authorities doing to ensure your pension is safe?

Three rules for building a pension that you can retire on

One of the most frequently asked questions about pensions is “how much do I need to save?”. But despite the best efforts of government and the pensions industry, a one-size-fits-all answer is hard to come by.

In previous generations, the question didn’t really arise for most people. A worker simply stayed in the workplace scheme, contributed in line with the rules, and with a long working life could expect a pretty decent retirement.

Your state pension forecast: how to understand it and fix shortfalls

If you are under state pension age, one very practical thing that you can do at the start of 2020 is obtain a state pension forecast. There were big changes in April 2016 and it is therefore worth understanding your rights under the new system, including the potential to top up at very favourable rates.

How to trim tax on pension pot withdrawals

The ushering in of an era of pension freedom by George Osborne four years ago was a revolutionary change. Retirees were no longer compelled to use their pension pot to buy an annuity that would provide them with an income for life; instead, they could leave their money invested and dip into it at will.

This freedom is now taken for granted and widely used. The latest figures from HMRC show that in any given quarter hundreds of thousands of people are taking advantage of the pension freedoms. The average quarterly withdrawal now stands at just over £7,000.

Why pension pots are not always better together

One of the side effects of working for a number of employers over the course of a working life is that you may acquire several separate pensions along the way.

This is especially true today, as the law now requires employers to enrol workers earning more than £10,000 a year in a pension scheme.

A desire for tidiness may lead us to consider combining such pension pots. Indeed, with that in mind, new companies are being set up with business models based on enticing people to merge all their pensions into a single pension pot – which such companies will manage.

Steve Webb: beware pitfall of taking pension cash early

Since the pension freedoms introduced in April 2015, everyone has a range of options as to how to access their pension. These include taking the whole lot out (subject to a potentially large tax bill) or leaving the whole lot in and then taking chunks as and when required. However, although these reforms are described as giving savers ‘pension freedom’, that freedom is not unrestricted.

Steve Webb: the biggest pension freedom trap to avoid

The pension freedoms implemented in April 2015 have been one of the most popular changes to pensions in recent years. Until the changes, most people had little choice but to turn their pension pot into an income for life by purchasing an annuity. But with interest rates at historically low levels and a poorly functioning annuity market, many were getting disappointing value for money.

Just 1% of grandparents are taking advantage of this state pension perk

Pension Clinic: beware the £4,000 pension contribution trap

Once upon a time, the government decided it wanted to simplify the rules around pensions and tax. There were going to be simple annual and lifetime limits on pension tax relief, and lots of the old complexity was going to be swept away. This was in 2006.

But since then, far from leaving things alone, successive governments have tweaked and fiddled with the rules, which mean that it can be a nightmare for law-abiding citizens even to understand what they can and cannot do.