October 2023

Several months have passed since the Spring Budget, which, although not necessarily packed with good news stories, held one announcement that certainly did bring considerable cheer to higher rate taxpayers. A recent survey has revealed the dramatic impact that Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s decision to scrap the pension Lifetime Allowance (LTA) is having on people’s retirement planning strategies.

Purpose of the move

In his first Spring Budget Statement delivered on 15 March, the Chancellor announced that the LTA charge would be removed from April 2023 and that the LTA would be abolished altogether from April 2024. This decision was essentially designed to remove a disincentive for retirement saving amongst higher earners and dissuade an increasing number of this group from retiring early.

Boosting pension contributions

New research4 suggests the change has already had a significant impact on higher earners’ pension saving and retirement planning decisions both in terms of spurring more contributions and encouraging retirement delays. According to the survey, 51% of higher rate taxpayers have restarted, increased or made plans to increase their pension payments since the announcement, with average additional payments amounting to £650 a month.

Extending working lives

In addition, 23% of respondents said they had delayed their planned retirement or are likely to delay their retirement due to the fact that they can now save a higher amount in their pension pot without facing a heavy tax charge. Furthermore, around 10% said they had actually come out of retirement as a result of the change, while another 6% were planning to come out of retirement.

Advice is paramount

While abolition of the LTA has undoubtedly simplified some decisions in relation to retirement and estate planning, it has also effectively increased the need for clients to seek professional advice on their pension arrangements due to the change in tax treatment. There is also always an element of political risk in financial planning which means clients may need to act quickly if they are to make the most of the opportunity the Chancellor has provided.

4 Investec, July 2023

The value of investments and income from them may go down. You may not get back the original amount invested. A pension is a long term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down. Your eventual income may depend on the size of the fund at retirement, future interest rates and tax legislation.