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One in four over-50s still don’t understand pension freedom rules

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April marks five years since pension freedoms were introduced but there’s still confusion around the rules, research shows.

One in four people over the age of 50 don’t understand the retirement options available to them under pension freedoms, while a further one in four haven’t changed their retirement plans in the wake of the freedoms, according to a survey by Fidelity International.

Maike Currie, director for workplace investing at Fidelity, said: “Deciding how to access a lifetime’s worth of savings is no easy feat and this must be matched with desired income level, life expectancy, tax considerations and unexpected costs as life takes its various twists and turns.

“With this in mind it’s perhaps no surprise many people are lost in the pensions maze, confused by the options available to them and have decided to not make any changes to their retirement plans.”

The pension freedoms came into force in April 2015 and marked some of the most radical reforms to pensions the UK has seen. They meant people over 55 could have full access to their pension savings and were no longer tied to purchasing an annuity.

Official figures from HMRC reveal that many retirees have flexed their new-found freedoms with nearly £33bn withdrawn from pension schemes since March 2018.

However, the research revealed a note of caution, with 25% of those in their 50s saying the freedoms have encouraged too many people to take their money as a lump sum, risking their future income. Over a quarter (26%) believe that despite the reforms being a positive step, more education is needed.

Some 15% of people surveyed thought that seeking the support of a financial adviser should be compulsory, in order to prevent poor decision making.

Currie added: “This anniversary presents an opportunity. Nearly one million people will reach age 55 in 2020 and the industry now has five years’ worth of learnings.

“This is a chance to further simplify the options available to people, introduce new initiatives like the pension dashboard, increase education and ultimately support more people on their retirement journey, whatever that may be.”

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