Other Pension Schemes
State pension deal
Former pensions minister Steve Webb has highlighted a deal that may be attractive to public sector pensioners who retire before they get their state retirement pension. In simple terms, they can potentially benefit by paying subsidised voluntary national insurance contributions for the years between the date when they retire and when they reach state pension age. As is often the case with these decisions, the benefit depends on how long the pensioner lives - not an easy judgement to make!
20 million – mainly low-earners – to lose out under pension reform
Experts say low-earners will bear the cost of reform that promised to be fairer and simpler – and its impact will be greater than that of tax credits. The Scotsman does a useful 'winners and losers' analysis. A Which? survey shows why so many are confused.
State pension muddle and 1950's women
TUC blog on the state pension muddle caused by the cumulative impact of the 1995 decision to equalise State Pension Ages for men and women and subsequent changes in 2007 and, particularly 2011. A number of women face sharp increases to their State Pension age with little time to plan for big changes to their life paths.
Employers urged to 'sell' pensions
Employers need to focus attention on forthcoming increases in minimum pension contribution levels or risk staff exiting schemes in large numbers, according to industry figures, amid concern about the low level of awareness of the legislative changes involved. The UK government has announced the auto-enrolment age will be reduced to 18. A welcome move, but more needs to be done to top boost lethargic pension reform.
Gap between rich and poor pensioners in Scotland is growing
A report from the The Equality and Human Rights Commission says people in Scotland are facing greater inequality and isolation, are working longer and taking on more unpaid care.
Pensions taxable allowance reduced
From 6 April 2016, the pensions annual allowance will be reduced for many individuals with taxable income (which includes employer and employee pension contributions) of over £150,000 per year. For individuals with taxable income in excess of £210,000 per year the pensions annual allowance could be reduced to as low as £10,000. Here is a useful briefing.
Why are fund managers paid so much?
The reasons why fund managers are paid so much from our pension pots explained in this very good post. There is a further insight into the murky world of fund management in this Scotsman article. The costs that investors know they’re charged amount to less than a fifth of the amount they actually pay, according to the Pensions Institute.
The secret life of your pension pot
Over the lifetime of a typical pension, hidden charges can eat up as much as 30 per cent of what it would otherwise have been worth.
MPs report on Auto-Enrolment
Work and Pensions Committee report is a timely reminder that more action is needed to boost contributions and bring the forgotten millions into the pensions system – mainly low-paid workers, women and the self-employed.
Keeping a close watch on pension reforms
Herald leader comment on the UK Government's pension reforms. Plus the Scotsman on the House of Commons work and pensions committee report which said the freedom introduced in April is “not yet operating entirely as it should” and a lack of clarity is “endangering pension savers”.
Lessons from history on Tory pension plans
What are the lessons of history for the Treasury’s proposals to change the basis of UK pension taxation? The experience of the 1980s signals trouble ahead for both consumers and the state if the changes are implemented
Fall in life expectancy cuts pension liabilities
Life expectancies have fallen compared to 2014. A male currently age 65 is now predicted to live for 24 years and five months on average. This reduces the liabilities of UK private sector pension schemes by some £15bn. While this is only 1% of the total liabilities held, it will reduce the deficit in a scheme that is 90% funded by 10% of that deficit
MSP pension fund invests in weapons, tobacco and dirty fuels
Friends of the Earth Scotland has highlighted £3m of unethical investment in the MSP pension scheme. One of the biggest beneficiaries was BHP Billiton, the target of fierce attacks this weekend by Colombian environmental activists on a visit to Scotland.The Independent MSP, John Finnie, is campaigning for the Scottish Parliament to end its “unethical” investments. He accused fellow MSPs of being “prevaricating, dis-interested, unaware and above all hypocritical” about the issue.
FoE have an e-action site so you can raise concerns with your MSP.
Why pensions and hedge funds don't mix
Public pension managers invest in hedge funds that promise market-beating returns. As this report in the NYT shows, what happens instead is that the pension gaps remain while the hedge funds gorge on fees.
Tax avoidance - why it matters to pension funds
This investor briefing outlines key aspects of the tax evasion and aggressive tax planning policy debate and why they matter for investors. It identifies a selection of corporate governance indicators to look for when engaging with the management of invested companies or when preparing the annual general meeting of shareholders. It proposes a four-step "roadmap" to help pension funds, and trade union pension trustees in particular, integrate tax risk in a responsible investment framework.
Our Pensions, Our Communities, Our Planet
Public sector pension funds invest some £14bn into fossil fuel corporations. That means workers' pensions are accelerating dangerous climate change. They are overly risky long term investments. Council pensions already lost £683 million with a recent crash in coal stocks. Most importantly, these investments funnel capital out of local lives, jobs and economies into corporate profits of the likes of BP and Shell. This Trade Union briefing explains why.
Mandatory advice for annuity sales
A change announced by the government to the Bank of England and Financial Services Bill, which will ensure impartial financial advice for savers selling their “high value” pension annuity, is a necessary protection says the TUC.
New rules for Trust Based DC Schemes
The Pensions Regulator has published a draft new Code of Practice on the governance and administration of defined contribution (DC) trust-based schemes for consultation. It sets out how the Regulator expects trustees to assess value for members, manage plan investments, process core financial transactions and produce an annual Chair’s governa
New state pension changes explained
Age UK have published a helpful guide to the new state pension changes. There is further detail at the UK government site, but these are complex and not well explained.
A Saga survey of 10,010 over 50s has shown confusion over the plans to introduce a new flat rate state pension in April 2016. Respondents were equally divided with a third believing the new system would be more generous, a third thinking it would be less generous and the remainder having no idea. Saga is calling for the Government to write to all those approaching retirement with individual pension predictions along with a proper explanation the new system and to draw attention to arrangements that allow people to make top up payments so they can qualify for a better pension.
The dangers of cashing in your pension
UNISON's Glyn Jenkins outlines the dangers of cashing in your pension.
Police have warned gangsters are moving to capitalise on UK Government pension release reforms by offering savings packages and lump sums that are "too good to be true". Scottish criminals are playing a key role by tapping into existing expertise that exists within the country's multi-billion pension industry to defraud people across the UK.
Detective Chief Superintendent John Cuddihy said: "We have Scottish organised crime groups who are specifically involved in pension liberation frauds. As soon as they heard they news that could could liberate your pension early, they seized the opportunity."
The Westminster Work and Pensions Committee, under its new chairman Frank Field, is to scrutinise so-called pensions freedom reform. Giving robust scrutiny to what is effectively an experiment with savers’ money. The TUC's Tim Sharp outlines the issues the committee needs to consider.
International pension comparison
The consulting firm Mercers has published an interesting comparison of pension systems across 25 countries.
Australia, comes out well in defined contribution funds investment. The Dutch have a “flat-rate” public pension, which ranks the best globally in terms of generosity but is also strong on workplace pension provision. The best countries also scored highly on adequacy, which takes into account the base pension provided to the poor. On this measure, Denmark was rated more than 35% and Australia about 28% while both the UK and US were less than 20%.
Summer Budget 2015 - Pensions
The UK government will consult on overhauling the system of pensions tax relief in the UK. This may result in a pension being taxed in the same way as an ISA, which would have significant implications for members. It is also unclear how this would apply to defined benefit schemes and whether tax relief on employer contributions may also be scrapped. Other headlines are:
•the reduction in the annual allowance for those earning over £150,000 from 6 April 2016;
•further consideration of pooled investments across LGPS funds;
•consulting before the summer on options to make the transfer process smoother and quicker, including excessive early exit penalties; and
•the extension of PensionWise to anyone aged 50 or over.
End Discrimination in Survivor Pensions
Some widowers, surviving civil partners and same-sex spouses receive a lot less each year than widows just because of their gender and/or sexual orientation. The TUC is calling on the UK Government to end this discrimination across all pension schemes.
You can sign up to the TUC campaign here.
UNISON Scotland has members in a range of other pension schemes. These include:
University Pension Scheme (USS) and some universities have their own scheme
Scottish Housing Associations Pensions Scheme (SHAPS)
Company pension schemes, particularly in the energy industry
Individual charity pension schemes.
and of course the State Pension