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News & Updates

News & Updates

Updates
State Pension Top-up ends 5th April 2017
The government has set up a State Pension Top-up scheme that allows you to boost your retirement income by between £1 and £25 a week in exchange for a lump sum payment.
To take advantage of this scheme you will need to be entitled to a UK State Pension and have reached pension age on or before 6th April 2016 - that's men born before 6th April 1951, and women born before 6th April 1953.
The boost payment is:
  • Guaranteed for life
  • 50% to 100% inheritable in most cases by a spouse or civil partner
  • protected against inflation, linked to the Consumer Price Index (CPI)

Things you will need to consider

The scheme isn't right for everyone, and there are alternative ways to boost retirement income. State Pension top-up is taxable as income, and we recommend seeking independant advice before taking up the scheme.

How to apply

Just apply online at www.gov.uk/statepensiontopup. Remember that the deadline for online applications is midnight 5th April 2017.

15th March 2017
BCF added to Pensions Regulator list of Master trust assured schemes
After being awarded Master trust assurance for the second year running, BCF Pension Trust has been added to the Pensions Regulator’s list of Master trust assured schemes.

Master trust assurance is an acknowledgement from an independent review that the scheme meets certain criteria relating to governance and administration of the scheme. These criteria are drawn up in line with the Pensions Regulator’s DC Code and give the user assurance that the scheme is trustworthy.

For more information on Master trust assurance, click here.

04th August 2016
New offices for BCF
BCF relocated at the beginning of November 2015 to new larger offices in Ellesmere Port.

With automatic enrolment now well under way for employers across the UK, pension schemes are seeing a large increase in member numbers and BCF is gearing up to take on new staff in early 2016 as its scheme membership grows. 



11th November 2015
From April 2015: more freedom and choice for pension savers

The government’s proposed changes to pensions, which we wrote about in Issue 5 of our newsletter, have now become law – giving more flexibility to pension savers.
 
From 6th April 2015 people age 55 or over will have greater control over how they use their pension savings; choices include taking all their pension savings as a lump sum when they retire, drawing them down over time, buying an annuity to give them a guaranteed regular income for the rest of their life, or even taking a series of lump sums whilst continuing to contribute to their fund.
 
For example, if you have £100,000 of pension savings you will still be able to take £25,000 (25%) as a tax-free lump sum but then will have the following options:
 
  • take out the remaining £75,000 in one go and pay tax on it at your marginal rate;
  • buy an annuity with all or some of your remaining £75,000 to give you a guaranteed income for the rest of your life;
  • leave the rest of your money invested and take it out in small or larger amounts to spend as and when you need it (this would also be taxed as income).
 
Alternatively you could take a series of lump sums of say £5,000 each, as and when you wish to, and still continue to contribute up to £10,000 per year into your pension pot. Each lump sum would be 25% tax free with the rest taxed as income.
 
Along with the new choices people will now have, comes greater responsibility to make sure their pension savings last for as long as they need them.
 
To guide pension savers in making the right choices for their circumstances, the government is offering free and impartial face-to-face guidance at retirement for everyone who has a DC pension.
 
This service will be known as Pension Wise and will be provided free to consumers by Citizens Advice and The Pensions Advisory Service. It will be available from April 2015 via the Pension Wise website, over the phone or in face-to-face sessions and will cover things like 
  • what you can do with your pension pot
  • the different pension types and how they work
  • what’s tax-free and what’s not.
 
BCF will provide our members with more information about the new pension flexibilities and the Pension Wise service as part of our Approaching Retirement Communications Plan.

Click here to see our new video about Pensions Flexibility

3rd February 2015
 
Budget 2014 - sweeping pensions reforms announced The most fundamental change in the way people access their pension in almost a century has been announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in his Budget speech yesterday.

The Chancellor set out that by removing the effective requirement to buy an annuity, people will have greater flexibility in accessing their pensions.

This means that people can choose how they access their defined contribution pension savings; for example they could take all their pension savings as a lump sum, draw them down over time, or buy an annuity.
Alongside this, the government is introducing a new requirement for pension providers to make sure that everyone retiring with a defined contribution pension pot receives free and impartial face-to-face guidance on the choices they face when deciding how to use their retirement savings.

These changes are expected to come into force from April 2015

In the meantime, as a first step towards this reform, the Chancellor has announced a number of changes to the current rules that will come into effect from 27 March 2014. This will allow people to have greater freedom and choice now over accessing their defined contribution pension savings at retirement. These are:
  • reducing the amount of guaranteed income people need in retirement to access their savings flexibly, from £20,000 to 12,000
  • increasing the amount of total pension savings that can be taken as a lump sum, from £18,000 to £30,000
  • increasing the capped drawdown withdrawal limit from 120% to 150% of an equivalent annuity
  • increasing the maximum size of a small pension pot which can be taken as a lump sum (regardless of total pension wealth) from £2,000 to £10,000 and increasing the number of personal pots that can be taken under these rules from two to three

For further information on these changes click here for a handy fact sheet from the government

20th March 2014
Pension liberation fraud - don't be stung

Pension liberation also known as ‘pension loans’ and ‘pension scams’ is a transfer of a scheme member's pension savings to an arrangement that will allow them to access their funds before the age 55. But accessing pension savings before minimum pension age is only possible in rare cases, like terminal illness. This activity can be fraudulent where individuals are not informed, or are misled, as to the consequences of entering into one of these schemes.

An increasing number of companies are targeting savers claiming that they can help them take their pension cash early. Pension liberation can result in tax charges and penalties of more than half the value of a member’s pension savings, and those being targeted are usually not being told about the potential tax implications. This is in addition to high charges, typically 20 to 30% for entering into one of these arrangements and high risk investments for the remaining pension savings.

For more information click here

A million more workers saving for their retirement

The Pensions Regulator has confirmed that the millionth worker has been automatically enrolled into a workplace pension.

Automatic enrolment was introduced in October last year to ensure workers have access to an occupational pension.

The largest firms in the UK have already started enrolling their workers into pension saving, medium-sized firms are starting now, and the smaller businesses will follow in the years to 2018.

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