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What Pension Reforms Did The Chancellor Announce?

They may improve productivity ...


Posted by Roger Eddowes on 20/03/2023 @ 8:00AM

The Chancellor has recently proposed a series of pension reforms aimed at encouraging individuals to increase their pension savings, with the underlying belief that this could help address the United Kingdom's low productivity levels ...

Current tax policies have led many top earners to consider early retirement. These pension reforms may help!

Current tax policies have led many top earners to consider early retirement. These pension reforms may help!

copyright: anawat / 123rf

By keeping individuals in employment for a longer period and enticing the 'economically inactive' (particularly those aged over 50) back into work, these measures hope to bolster productivity across the nation.

However, critics argue that the proposed changes merely make slight adjustments to existing legislation, rather than instituting a comprehensive reform of the pension taxation system.

From the 6th of April 2023, the following measures are set to be implemented:

  • The pension contributions annual income tax allowance will be raised from £40,000 to £60,000, and the annual money purchase allowance for pension contributions by existing pensioners will increase from £4,000 to £10,000

  • The lifetime allowance charge will be abolished, and the pension lifetime allowance will be removed (this latter measure taking effect from April 2024)

  • The income level at which the pension contributions annual income tax allowance will be tapered will rise from £240,000 to £260,000, effective from the 6th of April 2023

A more cynical viewpoint suggests that these measures have been primarily designed to alleviate pressure on the beleaguered NHS system. Current tax policies have led many NHS doctors to consider early retirement, and these new measures could potentially deter them from doing so.

Nevertheless, a considerable number of individuals will benefit from the opportunity to make higher pension contributions without incurring unwelcome tax charges. Only time will reveal the true effectiveness of these measures.

Hidden within the details of the announcements, the pension commencement lump sum allowance (colloquially known as the tax-free lump sum) will remain fixed at 25% of the available pension fund, with a maximum limit of £268,275 (i.e. 25% of the current lifetime allowance of £1,073,100). Over time, this figure may become less than a quarter of the value of a pension, potentially incentivising individuals to retain funds within their pension for use as part of a wider inheritance tax planning strategy.

For those with substantial assets outside their pension, relying on spending other capital instead of drawing down income from their retirement fund could become a more attractive option. This approach would allow them to preserve their pension funds for future inheritance, rather than depleting them during their retirement!

While these reforms may indeed improve productivity, particularly within the NHS workforce, they are also likely to exacerbate wealth inequality. The changes primarily benefit high earners, who can now contribute more significant amounts to their pensions without facing additional tax charges.

Furthermore, the removal of the lifetime allowance charge is likely to disproportionately benefit those with larger pension pots. It is crucial to recognise that, while these measures may achieve their intended aim of increasing productivity and encouraging individuals to remain in the workforce for longer. They could also contribute to a growing divide between the wealthy and the less affluent.

In conclusion, the Chancellor's proposed pension reforms seek to address the UK's productivity issues by incentivising longer employment and enticing economically inactive individuals back into work.

These pension reforms have been met with criticism for merely tweaking existing legislation rather than introducing something more comprehensive.

Until next time ...

Business Godparent


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About Roger Eddowes ...


Roger trained at Edward Thomas Peirson & Sons in Market Harborough before working at Hartwell & Co, followed by Chancery, as a partner. He started Essendon Accounts and Tax with Helen Beaumont in 2014 as a general practitioner with a hands-on approach.

Roger loves getting his hands dirty, working with emerging, small-to-medium and family businesses to ensure they receive the best possible accountancy advice. Roger utilises an extensive network of business contacts to leverage the best guidance and practical solutions.