Older people need 'financial MOTs'

Older people need regular "financial MOTs" to help them navigate through decades of retirement, according to a report from Age UK.

Pensions minister Steve Webb is introducing a Pensions Bill into Parliament
Pensions minister Steve Webb is introducing a Pensions Bill into Parliament

The report argues that frequent financial check-ups are critical to help people to cope financially with retirement periods which can now last for around 30 to 40 years.

It says that rather than building one single "plan" for retirement, retirees' financial planning should concentrate on building up resilience to shocks such as ill health, care needs or the death of a partner.

The report, titled Financial Resilience in Later Life, is the culmination of Age UK's Financial Services Commission, a series of three summits involving industry leaders, Government, consumer advocates and older people.

It comes as the Government prepares to relax rules surrounding pension pots which will give people much more freedom to take their money how they wish, rather than feeling forced to use the money to buy a lifetime income called an annuity.

From April next year, people aged over 55 with a defined contribution (DC) pension pot will be able to take it how they want, subject to their marginal rate of income tax. At present, people are charged 55% tax if they want to withdraw the whole pot.

Age UK also said it also fears that there is likely to be a growing risk coming from scams and bogus investment schemes following the changes.

Tom Wright, Age UK group chief executive and co-chairman of the Financial Services Commission, said, "With retirement now often lasting 30 or 40 years - a third of your life - we're in critical need of a radical new approach to making later life financially secure and comfortable.

"The concept of making one set of retirement plans at pension age is not fit for purpose.

"We believe a series of financial MOTs at significant points throughout retirement, together with a robust state and private pensions system, is the real way to help people make ends meet and live comfortably.

"We hope the financial services industry, regulators and Government who worked with us during the Commission will now act on the blueprint we've laid out as a result of our discussions so that people in Britain can feel financially prepared for and confident about their later lives."

Pensions Minister Steve Webb said: "I welcome Age UK's role in spearheading the debate on what more we can do.

"The Pensions Bill which will be introduced into Parliament shortly will be a vehicle for the Government's ongoing pensions revolution, and I look forward to driving through Parliament a number of further measures which will reflect the realities of our ageing society."