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Super sizing pensions is the best way to deal with small pension pots

26 March 2012

The Government must act to help savers with small pension pots get better outcomes in retirement, the National Association of Pension Funds said today (Mon). Hundreds of thousands of small pension pots are already “stranded”, a problem that is likely to get worse after the introduction of automatic enrolment.

Under automatic enrolment, as workers change jobs it is likely they will build up multiple pension pots. Small pots can be burdensome for employers and pension schemes, and they may not offer the best value for money for savers.

study from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) jointly funded by the NAPF and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) highlighted the full-scale of the problem. It showed that £1.4bn is already trapped in 700,000 stranded workplace defined contribution (DC) pension pots worth less than £5,000.

In its response to the Government’s consultation on small pension pots, the NAPF reiterated its call for a new way of thinking about DC pensions. Large scale, good quality trust-based pension schemes would secure better outcomes for savers and would also deal with the small pots problem. The NAPF called on the Government to set up a framework for new Super Trusts that will make it less likely that people will transfer their pension pots, and give them the opportunity to consolidate their existing pension provision.

The NAPF praised the Government for its commitment to finding a solution to small pension pots under auto-enrolment. But it added that the Government also needs to take action against existing small pension pots.

Darren Philp, Director of Policy of the NAPF, said:

“Small pots are a huge problem for pension savers and pension schemes. Automatic enrolment is a once in a generation opportunity to tackle our pension savings crisis and the Government must act to ensure the success of these reforms.

“The current system leaves savers with too many pots to keep track of. It creates unnecessary complexity and may not lead to the best outcomes in retirement.

“In a world where defined contribution pensions are becoming the norm, we need a system that helps pension savers achieve the best outcomes in retirement. Combining small pots will help, but we also need schemes that can look out for the interest of savers. Good quality, large scale Super Trust schemes would look after members’ interests and could accept small pots automatically.

“Small pots are a big problem, but it is important that the Government considers all its options carefully before it makes any decisions on which transfer mechanism to adopt.”

The NAPF recommended:

• The creation of good quality, Super Trust schemes that would accept small pots and that would look after the pensions of savers.

• Short-service refunds should not be abolished until after an efficient system for transferring pensions is implemented.

• 2014 is an extremely ambitious deadline for implementing such a radical overhaul of the system for transferring pensions. With the delay of the full implementation of the auto-enrolment reforms to 2018, the Government has more time to weigh up its options.

The IFS research showed that if people were able to consolidate all their employer-provided pension pots, the number of existing retained pots containing less than £5,000 could be reduced from 700,000 to 500,000.

 

NAPF response here

IFS research here

 

Notes to editors:

1. The NAPF is the leading voice of workplace pensions in the UK. We speak for 1,200 pension schemes with some 15 million members and assets of around £800 billion. NAPF members also include over 400 businesses providing essential services to the pensions sector.

Contacts:

Christian Zarro, Press Officer, NAPF, 020 7601 1718 or 07825 171 446, [email protected]