Archive for the ‘Personal Pension’ Category

Plans to allow pensioners to sell annuities abandoned

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

The government has announced that it is shelving plans to allow pensioners to sell their annuities for a lump sum.

Many experts had predicted that those who sold their annuities would be likely to get a poor deal and the government has decided not to take forward the plans to introduce a secondary annuities market because the consumer protections required could undermine the market’s development.

It has become clear that creating the conditions to allow a competitive market to emerge could not be balanced with sufficient consumer protections.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Simon Kirby, said:

‘Allowing consumers to sell on their annuity income was always dependent on balancing the creation of an effective market with making sure consumers are properly protected.

It has become clear that we cannot guarantee consumers will get good value for money in a market that is likely to be small and limited.

Pursuing this policy in these circumstances would put consumers at risk – this is something that I am not prepared to do.

The government has always been clear that for the majority of people keeping their annuity incomes will be their best option, estimating that only 5% of people who currently hold an annuity would take advantage of this reform.’

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Government urged to delay the launch of Lifetime ISA

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

The government is being urged by both pension providers and banks to delay the April 2017 launch of the new Lifetime ISA as they are warning that they will not be ready to offer the savings product by this time.

A new Lifetime ISA introduces a new type of savings account for adults under the age of 40. Individuals will be able to contribute up to £4,000 per year and receive a 25% bonus from the government. Funds, including the government bonus, can be used to buy a first home at any time from 12 months after opening the account, and can be withdrawn from age 60 completely tax-free.

Further details of the new account, which is expected to be available from 2017, are as follows:

  • Any savings an individual puts into the account before their 50th birthday will receive an added 25% bonus from the government.
  • There is no maximum monthly contribution and up to £4,000 a year can be saved into a Lifetime ISA.
  • The savings and bonus can be used towards a deposit on a first home worth up to £450,000 across the country.
  • Accounts are limited to one per person rather than one per home, so two first time buyers can both receive a bonus when buying together.
  • Where an individual already has a Help to Buy ISA they will be able to transfer those savings into the Lifetime ISA in 2017, or continue saving into both. However only the bonus from one account can be used to buy a house.
  • Where the funds are withdrawn at any time before the account holder is aged 60 they will lose the government bonus (and any interest or growth on this) and will also have to pay a 5% charge.
  • After the account holder’s 60th birthday they will be able to take all the savings tax-free.

In the article published by This is Money pension providers Aegon and Standard Life have stated that they have delayed their plans until final details regarding the Lifetime ISA are released.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is yet to consult on the initiative. Steven Cameron, Pensions Director at Aegon, stated that a consultation is ‘likely to take three months’ to carry out.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Standard Life said: ‘As we want the Lifetime ISA to be a success, we would prefer that its launch is delayed until providers receive more detail on the product and how it is to be implemented.’

The Treasury is expected to confirm full details in the autumn.

Internet link: Article

Pensions Freedom Update

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

According to HMRC figures over 230,000 people have used the new pension freedoms introduced one year ago and accessed over £4.3 million in pensions saving.

In April  2015, the government introduced significant pension reforms giving people the ability to access their pensions savings how and when they want. The statistics show that in the first year of these new rules being available, more than 232,000 people have accessed £4.3 billion flexibly from their pension pots.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Harriett Baldwin said:

‘It’s only right that people should have a choice over what they do with their money and in their first year our successful pension freedoms have already given thousands of people access and responsibility over their hard-earned savings.

We will continue to make sure that the pension freedoms work well for everyone, including through working with our partners to ensure consumers are protected and that there is simple information to help people understand their options.

The government has already taken action to ensure the new freedoms work for consumers and that they have the right information to make informed decisions.

It has announced that it will be capping early exit fees, allowing earlier access to Pension Wise guidance, and working with industry to introduce a Pensions Dashboard.

It has also announced that it is extending the popular freedoms even further, giving millions more people the right to sell their annuities if it’s best for them from April 2017.’

Since the pension flexibility rules took effect from 6 April 2015:

  • 232,000 individuals have accessed their money flexibly
  • People have flexibly accessed over £4.3 billion of their own money through 516,000 payments.
  • In the most recent quarter, 74,000 individuals withdrew £820 million. In the previous quarter, 67,000 individuals withdrew £800 million.
  • Figures are taken from information voluntarily reported to HMRC by pension scheme administrators from 6 April 2015 to 31 March 2016. It is not mandatory for scheme administrators to flag these up as pension flexibility payments until April 2016.
  • HMRC statistics cover ‘flexible payments’, which means partial or full withdrawal of the pension pot, taking money from a flexible drawdown account, or buying a flexible annuity.

If you would like advice on the tax implications of pensions freedom please contact us.

Internet links: Gov.uk Pensions flexibility Gov.uk News

Pensioners ‘to gain’ from new single tier state pension but younger people ‘worse off’

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

A new single tier state pension is to be introduced for those reaching state pension age from 6 April 2016 onwards. According to research by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) many pensioners will receive a boost from the new single tier pension following its introduction from 6 April 2016.

Under the ‘flat-rate’ system, new pensioners could receive up to £155.65 per week, compared to the current state pension entitlement of £119.30.

The press release states:

‘The data shows the long-term impact of the new State Pension on people’s pensions, with 75% of people set to gain in the first 15 years.

The move to the new system will provide a boost to the State Pension for many women, with over 3 million women receiving an average of £11 more per week by 2030 as a result of the changes, – helping to address the gender inequalities that have persisted under the old scheme.’

To find out what your pension entitlement is visit www.gov.uk/state-pension-statement

Workplace Pensions and Auto Enrolment

Monday, February 1st, 2016

A workplace pension is a way of saving for your retirement that’s arranged by your employer.

Up until recently not all employers had to offer ‘work place pensions’, however the law on workplace pensions has changed and every employer with at least one member of staff now has new duties; they must automatically enrol workers into a workplace pension scheme and contribute to it if they meet the following criteria:

  • are aged between 22 and State Pension age
  • earn more than £10,000 a year
  • work in the UK

This is called ‘automatic enrolment’.

It’s called ‘automatic enrolment’ because it is automatic for staff – they don’t have to do anything to be enrolled into a pension scheme, but it is not automatic for employers.

Click here for some:Auto Enrolment Key Facts

Does automatic enrolment apply to you?

All employers will need to work out if automatic enrolment applies to them. However if you are an employer and have at least one member of staff who is paid via a PAYE scheme, then yes automatic enrolment duties apply to you.

What is Auto Enrolment?

You will now have to set up and offer a workplace pension to your employees. However do not panic if you haven’t already done this, you may not need to just yet.

When this law was introduced the Pensions Regulator rolled it out using a phased approached, called Staging Dates.

An employer’s staging date is determined by the number of people in the largest PAYE scheme that they use, based on the data from HM Revenue and Customs held by them on 1 April 2012.

How do you check your staging date?

The Pensions Regulator offer a staging date calculator to check  All you will need is your PAYE reference.

Click here for some additional information on the stages of setting up:Auo Enrolment

Getting the help that you need.

As Accountants it is our role to support and inform our clients about Auto Enrolment. As there is also an implication on any payroll services, where applicable we are also obligated to offer support in this area.
Jacobs Logo

To support our clients with understanding the options for them, we have teamed up with local pension and investment specialists Richard Jacobs, and have worked together to offer a short workshops on the topic.

To learn more about Auto Enrolment here are some Key Facts

 

We want to extend our support to other businesses in and around our area by inviting any employers who have not yet set up their workplace pensions along to one of our workshops.

Our workshop is designed to:

  • Provide you with an overview of what you need to know about Auto Enrolment and covers:
    • What is it.
    • Why you need to do it
    • How much it will cost you.
    • Which pension schemes are available.
  • Give you an overview of how Auto Enrolment will impact you from a payroll perspective
  • Give you an opportunity to discuss your requirements in more detail

 

Book your place

 

 

 

 

This short workshop is purely to offer and advice and make you aware of what you need to know. Whilst there will be opportunity to discuss your business at the workshop with both the Slaters and Jacobs teams, a full detailed discussion would need to take place individually.
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References:

https://www.gov.uk/workplace-pensions/about-workplace-pensions

https://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/automatic-enrolment-guide-for-business-advisers.aspx.

Self assessment deadline approaching

Monday, January 18th, 2016

The deadline for sending 2014/15 tax returns to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, is 31 January 2016.

HMRC have reported that:

  • a record breaking 24,546 people submitted their tax return online on New Year’s Eve
  • more than 11,467 people sent off their self assessment tax return on New Year’s Day
  • and in excess of 2,000 taxpayers submitted their tax returns on Christmas Day.

Ruth Owen, Director General of Personal Tax, HMRC, said:

‘As we all enjoy the festive season it’s easy to see how completing your tax return can be forgotten, but the 31 January deadline will be here quicker than we think.’

Please contact us if you need help with your self assessment return.

 

 

 

Work Place Pensions and Auto Enrolment

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

The Department of Work and Pensions and the Pensions Regulator have launched a new advertising campaign promoting auto enrolment which aims to change the country’s perception of pensions in the workplace.

Workie, ‘a striking physical embodiment of the workplace pension’, will be seen visiting people in different work environments over the coming months, asking them not to ignore him.

The advertisements come with a message, whilst automatic enrolment into workplace pensions has been rolling out across the UK since 2012, it is only now that 1.8 million small and micro employers need to act. In a phased process over the next three years, every employer will have to enrol their eligible staff into a pension scheme, by reference to their staging date.

Pensions Minister, Baroness Altmann, said:

‘We have made great strides forward by automatically enrolling more than 5 million people into a workplace pension – now the challenge is to make sure hardworking people with every type of employer get to enjoy this major financial benefit.

This is a fun and quirky campaign but behind it lies a very serious message. We need everyone to know they are entitled to a workplace pension – and we need all employers to understand their legal responsibility to their staff, but also to feel more positive about engaging with workplace pensions.

This government is committed to providing security for working people at every stage of their lives, and that includes giving people the chance to plan for a financially secure retirement. Automatic enrolment is a big part of that.

Since 2012, more than 5.4 million workers have been automatically enrolled into a workplace pension by almost 61,000 employers. By the time the process is complete in 2018, it is estimated that around 9 million workers will either be newly saving or saving more into a workplace pension thanks to the policy.

The new campaign will include radio, print, online and outdoor advertising and will run for the remainder of this year and into 2016. It is being coordinated jointly by the Department for Work and Pensions and The Pensions Regulator.’

 

Getting you ready for Auto Enrolment

Slaters have teamed up with local pension and investment specialists Richard Jacobs to offer Slaters clients more information on Auto Enrolment.

Our next workshop on Auto Enrolment will be in February 2016*.

The workshop will start at 9.00am until approx. 11.30am, and is designed to :

  • Provide you with all you need to know about Auto Enrolment
  • Take you through 9 easy steps to get you prepared
  • Give you an opportunity to discuss your requirements in more detail

Click here to register your interest

State Pension ‘top up’ scheme

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

A new scheme is being launched offering anyone reaching State Pension age before 6 April 2016 a chance to increase their State Pension by up to £25 a week.

People are eligible if they are entitled to a UK State Pension and have already reached their State Pension age or reach it before 6 April 2016. This includes men born before 6 April 1951 and women born before 6 April 1953.

The scheme will remain open for 18 months and those who think they can benefit will be able to buy additional State Pension, worth up to £1,300 a year. In most cases, surviving spouses and civil partners will be able to inherit at least 50% of the extra pension.

Minister for Pensions, Baroness Altmann said:

‘This government’s commitment is to provide security for working people at every stage of their lives, and that includes giving people the chance to enjoy a financially secure retirement. We have already committed to protecting pensioner incomes with the triple lock – uprating the basic State Pension by at least 2.5% each year of this Parliament. The new State Pension, coming in from April 2016, will ensure a simpler, more sustainable State Pension for the pensioners of tomorrow.

Top up is an opportunity for people already retired, or reaching State Pension age before April 2016, to boost their later life income. It won’t be right for everybody and it’s important to seek guidance or advice to check if it’s the right option for you. But it could be particularly attractive for those who haven’t had the chance to build significant amounts of State Pension, particularly many women and people who have been self-employed.’

Anyone who thinks they might benefit should seek advice and can use the online calculator to help them find out more. More information on State Pension top up and how to apply is available at www.gov.uk/statepensiontopup.

Auto enrolment ‘engagement’ and calculation tool

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

The Pensions Regulator (‘TPR’) has announced that following consultation they will develop a basic automatic enrolment tool. The basic tool should be available to download from TPR’s website by the end of 2015.

TPR consulted earlier this year on proposals to develop a basic tool to support those employers who use HMRC’s Basic PAYE Tools (BPT) to carry out their payroll function. HMRC’s BPT are used by many small employers to calculate PAYE, national insurance contributions and statutory payments such as Statutory Maternity Pay but has no pension function.

According to the TPR approximately 200,000 small and micro employers who use BPT are due to stage over the next two and half years and TPR’s experience indicates that using appropriate software either through payroll or pension provider systems helps employers to comply with their duties.

The majority of consultation responses were supportive of the TPR’s proposal, although some payroll firms and pension schemes were against the regulator developing a new tool.

Executive Director for Automatic Enrolment Charles Counsell said:

‘We will continue to recommend that BPT users consider using software with integrated automatic enrolment functionality, but by developing this basic contribution calculation tool we aim to ensure that BPT users have access to the help they need to support compliance.

The decision to develop a basic tool is recognition that significant numbers of BPT users will not seek a more integrated solution and will attempt manual calculations. This is another example of how The Pensions Regulator seeks to develop new ways to ensure we are meeting the needs of the diverse group of employers due to stage in the coming years.’

TPR has also issued the third edition of ‘Automatic enrolment: Commentary and analysis’, which reports on the impact of automatic enrolment and the increasing participation in workplace pension schemes. The commentary states:

  • By March 2015, over 5.2 million workers had been successfully automatically enrolled since the reforms began in 2012, an increase of more than 2.2 million workers from 2014, and 4.2 million from 2013.
  • Automatic enrolment is helping to turn around the decade-long decline in pension provision, with 59% of all employees now active members of a pension scheme, compared with just 47% in 2012. This increase suggests that pension saving is now becoming the norm.
  • The pensions landscape has been transformed as the majority of people are enrolled into defined contribution schemes. We have witnessed the growth in master trusts – 94% of employers who chose a trust-based scheme opted for a master trust.
  • We now expect that significantly more employers will be subject to automatic enrolment duties than originally anticipated, mainly due to an increase in the number of new companies that have started up, and fewer going out of business than was forecast. We have revised the staging profile accordingly, so that it reflects the 1.8 million employers we expect to help through the automatic enrolment process from now until 2018.

If you would like help with your payroll or advice on Pensions Auto Enrolment please contact us.

New business start ups

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

 This posting lists a few (but not necessarily all) of the tax issues you will need to consider when you are planning a new business:

  1. Get you business registered with HMRC, failure to do this can lead to penalties. If you are incorporating your business, HMRC generally pick up your business registration via their links with Companies House. But if you are aiming to be self employed, as a sole trader or in partnership, you will need to notify HMRC within certain time limits of your commencement date.
  2. In similar vein, if you need to employ staff you must register as an employer with HMRC.
  3. If you intend to register for VAT from the date you commence to trade you can still recover input VAT that you have paid on certain setup costs that you expended prior to the official start date.
  4. If you intend to register your business for VAT could you take advantage of one of HMRC’s special VAT schemes? For example:
  1. Cash accounting: pay over the VAT you have collected on your sales when you are paid by your customer, rather than when you issue your sales invoices. There are turnover limits to registration, but this option can have a significant impact on cash flow if the amounts you are owed is more than the amounts you owe.
  2. Flat rate scheme: using this scheme you calculate the amount you owe as a fixed percentage of your turnover each quarter (including VAT). For smaller businesses, who do not have significant VAT inclusive costs, this scheme can produce additional profits and simplify the calculation of your quarterly returns.
  3. Annual accounting: using this scheme you send in one VAT return a year instead of the usual four. Also for nine months of the year you make agreed payments on account to cover VAT due. The scheme is simple to administer, only one set of calculations per annum, and the monthly payments help to spread the cash flow impact of payments made.
  1. Invest in tax planning. The UK’s tax code is one of the most complex in Europe. We recommend that you take tax planning advice before you start in business and again at certain key moments in your trading year. At the very least you should discuss your trading results with your advisor before the end of your first trading year. It always pays to see what planning options are available before you take action to implement change.

If you are about to set-up a new business please call, we offer a no obligation first appointment to prospective new clients.