Pension savers 'need £35,000 extra'

Elderly couple walking on beachA man approaching retirement needs to have a pension pot almost £35,000 bigger than he would have done four years ago to achieve an income of £5,000 a year, a report shows.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that a single 65-year-old man has seen the level of savings he would need shoot up from around £118,000 in 2009 to £152,800 by March 2013.

From December last year, new gender equality rules came into place which mean that men can no longer be offered better annuity rates than women on the basis that men tend to have shorter lifespans.

Annuity rates, which set the size of someone's retirement income for life, have been in general decline in recent years, which some pensions analysts have put down to side-effects of the Bank of England's efforts to kick-start the economy.

The ONS said that according to Money Advice Service figures, by March this year, a man or a woman would need to have £152,800 put by to attain a £5,000-a-year income.

Women have also seen the buying power of their pension pots eroded, although the decline has been slightly less severe. In 2009, a woman would have needed £133,500 saved up to buy a yearly income of £5,000, according to the ONS's Pension Trends research.

Women tended to be offered worse annuity rates than men until the new European "gender neutral" rules came into force, meaning that insurers can no longer offer someone a different price on a range of policies and benefits, also including car insurance, based on their sex.

Financial information website Moneyfacts recently reported that men's pension annuity incomes plunged at the steepest rate in 14 years during 2012, with an 11.5% slide.

Rounds of quantitative easing (QE) to breathe new life into the economy have been blamed for plunging annuity rates.

QE makes it cheaper for companies to borrow by pushing down the yield on government bonds, but annuity incomes are also based on these yields, meaning that new pensioners see their incomes reduced.

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Pension savers 'need £35,000 extra'
Figures from charity Age UK show that 29% of those over 60 feel uncertain or negative about their current financial situation - with millions facing poverty and hardship. Even though saving for retirement is not much fun, the message is therefore that having to rely on dwindling state benefits in retirement is even less so. To avoid ending up in this situation, adviser Hargreaves Lansdown recommends saving a proportion of your salary equal to half your age at the time of starting a pension. In other words, if you are 30 when you start a pension, you should put in 15% throughout your working life. If you start at 24, saving 12% of your salary a year should produce a similar return.
Many older couples rely on the pension income of one person - often the man. Should that person die first, the other person can therefore be left in a difficult position financially.
One way to prevent financial hardship for the surviving person is to take out a joint life annuity that will continue to pay out up to 67% of the original payments to the surviving partner should one of them die.

The disadvantage of this approach, however, is that the rate you receive will be lower. Again, the Pensions Advisory Service on 0845 601 2923 is a useful first port of call if you are unsure what to do.

Around 427,000 households in the over-70 age groups are either three months behind with a debt repayment or subject to some form of debt action such as insolvency, according to the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS).

Its figures also show that those aged 60 or older who came to the CCCS for help last year owed an average of £22,330. Whether you are retired or not, the best way to tackle debt problems is head on.

Free counselling services from the likes of CCCS and Citizens Advice can help with budgeting and dealing with creditors.

Importantly, they can also conduct a welfare benefits check to make sure you are receiving the pension credit, housing and council tax benefits, attendance and disability living allowances you are entitled to.


The average UK pensioner household faces a £111,400 tax bill in retirement as increasing longevity means pensioners are living on average up to 19 years past the age of 65, according to figures from MetLife. And every year in retirement adds an extra £5,864 in direct and indirect taxes based on current tax rates to the costs for the average pensioner household. You can be forced to go bankrupt if you fail to pay your taxes, so it is vital to factor these costs into your retirement planning.It is also important to check that you are receiving all the benefits and tax breaks you are entitled to if you want to make the most of your retirement cash.

The cost of a room in a care home in many parts of the country is now over £30,000 a year, according to figures from Prestige Nursing and Care. So even if the prime minister announces a cap on care costs - last year the economist Andrew Dilnot called for a new system of funding which would mean that no one would pay more than £35,000 for lifetime care - families will still face huge accommodation costs. Ways to cut this cost include opting for home care rather than a care home. Jonathan Bruce, managing director of Prestige Nursing and Care, said: "For older people who may need care in the shorter term, home care is an option which allows people to maintain their independence for longer while living in their own home and should be included in the cap." However, the only other answer is to save more while you can.
Older Britons are often targeted by unscrupulous criminals - especially if they have a bit of money put away. For example, many over 50s were victims of the so-called courier scam that tricked into keying their pin numbers into their phones and handing their cards to "couriers" who visited their homes. It parted consumers from £1.5 million in under two years. Detective Chief Inspector Paul Barnard, head of the bank sponsored dedicated cheque and plastic crime unit (DCPCU), said: "Many of us feel confident that we can spot fraudsters, but this type of crime can be sophisticated and could happen to anyone." The same is true of boiler room scams that target wealthier Britons with money to invest, offering "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunities to snap up shares at bargain prices. Tactics to watch out for include cold calling, putting you under pressure to pay up or lose the opportunity for good, and claiming to have insider information that they are prepared to share with you.

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