State Vs Private – what do you know about pensions?
It’s never too early to start saving for your retirement. Even if it seems like a long way off and there might be other things to pay for at the moment, planning your retirement at an early stage often means that you are able to enjoy it more when it comes around.
So what is a pension? A pension is simply a tax-free pot of cash that your employer (and sometimes the Government) pays into, as a way of saving up for the days you no longer work.
You may be reaching retirement soon or maybe you are just thinking about the future. But take the time to look at any existing plans you already have in place and make sure they are meeting your needs.
There are two different types of pensions – state funded and private.
What is a State Pension?
The State Pension is a regular payment that you can get from the government when you retire and the amount you receive depends on how many qualifying years of National Insurance contributions you have. To get the full basic State Pension, most people need to have built up 30 qualifying years.
There are two types of State Pension currently. To qualify for the New State Pension, you must be:
- A man born on or after 6th April 1951
- A woman born on or after 6th April 1953
You’ll be able to get the Basic State Pension if you are born before the ages listed above.
The most important thing to understand about the state pension for those who qualify is that the State Pension is not means tested. It doesn’t matter what your former salary was or how you’ve got in savings. Instead, the amount you receive depends on a number of factors, most importantly the amount of National Insurance you’ve contributed over the years and the age you start collecting it.
What about a private pension?
There are two main ways you can start saving for a private pension – getting one through your job or joining a personal pension scheme. You can also use both state and private pension schemes at the same time.
Many employers have either a company pension scheme that they’ve set up for their employees or provide access to a group personal scheme. Your employer will contribute towards your pension; from October 2012 employers have been lawfully required to enrol their employees into a pension scheme and pay contributions for them.
You can also join a personal pension scheme whether you’re employed, self-employed or not working. They’re set up and run by financial organisations such as banks and insurance companies.
For more information about private pensions, check out this breakdown by HMRC.
At any time, you can request statements from all your pension providers to see how they are performing and what you can expect to receive when you retire. This will help you to work out how much you will need to live on during your retirement and if there is any shortfall you can think about how to rectify this well in advance of your retirement date.
For more information on pensions and what to think about when you’re getting near to retirement, the Citizens Advice Bureau is a great place to start.