Ros Altmann – “are small pension pots really for your 80s and 90’s?”

I am totally with Andrew. A pension is not spending money for your 50s or 60s, it’s there for your 80s or 90s. Unless you are seriously unwell of course and not expecting to need it later. Those under 55 can’t access the money, just being over 55 should not be a short-term bonanza without expert guidance to explore all other options. Pensions are precious. And the hysteria about cost of living crisis seems to lose sight of the probability that inflation will not keep on at current levels for energy bills. _Ros Altmann – replying to  my blog “spending your pension should make you happy”.


You are a Conservative peer, were appointed by the Prime Minister as the older person’s czar and have more recently been Pensions Minister.

During this time, a Conservative Chancellor, George Osborne brought in a change to the taxation of withdrawals from DC pensions that meant that from that time “nobody would have to buy an annuity again”. In introducing this legislation, your party changed DC saving from being an insurance against living too long to a means of providing wealth in retirement.

People can now decide to spend their pension pots in their fifties, sixties or save them to their estate, nowhere is is written that they are there for your 80s and 90s. That is entirely your view of what pension pots are there for. It is based on your ideology.

No one who has been auto-enrolled has been told about this hidden agenda for their money, they have been told they can have their money from 55 – paid to them as they choose. That is the deal – no “ifs” or “buts”.

The “hysteria”about the cost of living crisis is not being whipped up by irresponsible people. If there is hysteria, and I see no signs of it, then it results from comments from serious people like Martin Lewis , making it clear that what is happening is a crisis for people with limited spare cash.

For those who are considering other options , this article does not make good reading , not paying your fuel bills is not a good option (and this is the BBC – not known for hysteria).

You have previously supported Martin Lewis and the BBC, are you saying that he is now wrong?

The Prime Minister is telling us that your party’s Government will see poor people through this crisis, but Liz Truss, who is ten to one on to be the next prime minister says that she will solve the problem with tax cuts. Most of the problem is with people who don’t pay tax, people who you know save money because you and I have worked together on the net pay pensions problem.

So it is absolutely right that people decide to make plans to meet their coming bills as best they can. Rather than max out credit cards, or seek payday loans (or worse), they are choosing – if they are 55 or over – to engage with their pensions, something which we have been encouraging people to do for some time.

And it makes financial sense for them to take money now. Most will in danger of “absolute poverty” will drawdown within their personal allowance, or will drawdown tax free cash. The drawdown- provided it doesn’t exceed their capital allowance of £6,000, won’t impact their right to Universal Credit and using money as a bridge to the SPA means that it won’t be deemed income for pension credit.

More importantly, it ensures that they stay solvent prior to the relatively easy years that follow state pension age.

People cannot afford to gamble on being baled out of this crisis, they have to make provision for themselves and for many poor people, the only savings they have is in their workplace pensions.

Aviva report a 32% rise in encashment, a 38% rise in partial encashment of pension pots  in the last quarter. This is not to buy Lamborghinis or go on fancy holidays, this is to pay household bills.

So what is the reaction of those in authority?

I have senior people in the DWP warning me against recommending deprivation of pension capital. Gareth Morgan has rightly put that notion in the dustbin.

We have Nicola Parish of the TPA warning against people using pensions to pay household bills. She has subsequently retracted this.

And we have you – and Andrew – and many others from the pension industry throwing red flags in all directions, rather than help people to access their savings. Based on your view that people should defer gratification till their 80s and 90s.

And yet Ros, when you have been asked to progress CDC, a solution to the “hardest nastiest problem in finance” which helped ordinary people convert pot to wage for life (without buying an annuity) , you threw the legislation that Steve Webb put in – out and have subsequently argued against the new model of CDC.

I find your position  contradictory, lacking in empathy and providing the public with the ammunition to say that pension providers are

keen to take your money- but not to give it back.

I have heard that complaint from working people since I started selling insurance in 1984.

You are known as a champion for pensions, you and Andy Young set up the PPF. You created FAS and saved hundreds of schemes such as ASW from failing pensioners. You and I have had many positive meetings. I hope that you will come round to my and Gareth’s point of view.

People need to feel they can access their pension pots without guilt. They need to be congratulated on having saved and rewarded with peace of mind at this difficult time.

I run a company called AgeWage, dedicated to helping people provide themselves with an income that lasts as long as they do.  I am pragmatic, for most people of modest means, self-sufficiency is beyond them. Saving for retirement means saving for a rainy day. We have a lot of rainy days ahead this winter

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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1 Response to Ros Altmann – “are small pension pots really for your 80s and 90’s?”

  1. Well said Henry

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