The importance of retirement savings

Millions of people aren’t saving nearly enough to give them the standard of living they hope for when they retire.

If you fall into this category, you have three choices.

You can:

  • retire later
  • start saving more
  • adjust downwards your expectations of what you’ll be able to afford in retirement.

Don’t rely on the State Pension to keep you going in retirement.

The advantages of saving into a pension

Once you’ve decided to start saving for retirement, you need to choose how you’re going to do it.

Pensions have a number of important advantages that will make your savings grow more rapidly than might otherwise be the case.

A pension is basically a long-term savings plan with tax relief. Getting tax relief on pensions means some of your money that would have gone to the government as tax goes into your pension instead.

If you save through a scheme known as a defined contribution’ pension scheme your regular contributions are invested so that they grow throughout your career and then provide you with an income in retirement.

Generally, you can access the money in your pension pot from the age of 55.

How tax relief tops up your pension pot

Once your income is over a certain level, the government takes tax from your earnings.

You can see this on your payslip. If you put money into a pension scheme, it qualifies for tax relief.

This means that as well as the money you’re putting in, some of your money that would have gone to the government as tax now goes into your pension pot instead.

With personal or stakeholder pension schemes that you take out yourself, and with some types of workplace pension schemes, you can still get tax relief on your pension contributions, even if your income is too low to pay tax.

A tax-free lump sum when you retire

You can usually take up to a quarter of your pension savings as a tax-free lump sum.

If you’ve built up your own pension pot in a defined contribution scheme (as opposed to a salary-related pension scheme) you can then use the rest of your pot as you choose once you reach the age of 55.