BLOG: 'Forgetting' pensions

Written by Natalie Tuck

It is a common habit of many come New Year’s Day that we take up the art of decluttering to start the year afresh – we throw away the old to make space for gifts we have received.

We also make resolutions with common clichés including losing weight, getting organised and saving more. In light of the latter resolution, the Treasury using its powers of prediction, has issued an infographic on ‘Ways to save in 2017’ in which it details the different ways people can save at each stage of their lives.

It seems, however, that the Treasury has been up to some decluttering of its own kind by omitting saving for a pension from the infographic. Instead, people are informed that they can save £4,000 into a Lifetime ISA each year and receive a 25 per cent government bonus, which can also be used towards their first home.

For those entering later life, it provides information on a stocks and shares ISA which supports “long-term investment with higher returns”. Hargreaves Lansdown head of retirement Tom McPhail noted that this is “illustrative of the government’s struggle to present a coherent joined-up policy on savings, investments and provision for later life” as if they have completely forgotten about pensions.

Noticeably, the government has also dropped the word ‘retirement’ from the infographic and instead replaced it with the phrase ‘later life’, something that was first picked up on during Ros Altmann’s stint as Pensions Minister last year. This is all part of the ‘retirement revolution’, in which people will instead enter a period of ‘later life’ where they choose (Can’t afford to retire) to work flexibly.

And so, it seems that rather than the omission of pension from the infographic be through carelessness, the government has carefully crafted this to exclude the savings vehicle to suit its own agenda. We know that it would much rather have people save into ISAs than pensions for tax revenue purposes, which is why it launched the “Trojan Horse” Lifetime ISA after failing to get the industry on side following its consultation on the tax treatment of pensions.

Given the concerns the industry has over what will happened to auto-enrolment rate opt out rates once the Lifetime ISA has been launched it is frankly irresponsible of the government to ‘forget’ to mention that people can save into a pension.

As we enter the New Year with still millions of people to be enrolled into a pension it is vital that we educate individuals on the benefits of a pension for retirement, over an ISA. Because, the government, it seems, will not.

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