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TPAS Newsletter - 24 June 2009

Welcome to the fifth newsletter of 2009.

Live Q&A

The next virtual live questions session is on Wednesday 1 July 2009 between 2pm and 3pm.

Click here for further information about the Live Q&A and view previous sessions. 

TPAS Annual Report

Our annual report, covering the 12 months to April 2009, is to go online on 1 July 2009.

Visit our website from 1 July 2009 to download a copy of the report.

Ministerial Changes

There was a cabinet reshuffle earlier this month.

Yvette Cooper has replaced James Purnell as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.  Prior to her appointment, Yvette was Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Angela Eagle has replaced Rosie Winterton as Pensions Minister. Prior to her appointment, Angela was Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury.

New Leaflet - Pensions and Leaving Work

We have this month published a new leaflet - Pensions and Leaving Work.

It highlights the impact of leaving your job on your retirement saving.  It explains the issues you should think about and the information you should be given by your pension scheme.

Click here to download a copy of the leaflet.

State Pension Reforms

The DWP has published an information pack for advisers about the upcoming state pension reforms.  The pack provides information on the impact of the reforms on advisers' customers.

Click here to download the pack.

Equitable Life Update

The Parliamentary Ombudsman has published a 'special' report on the government's response to her earlier ruling on their maladministration.  This is only the fifth time the Ombudsman has issued a special report since its inception in 1967.

The Ombudsman said: "The government's response to my report was deeply disappointing. It provided insufficient support for the rejection of my findings of maladministration and injustice. It also begged a rather larger question as to what the purpose of regulation was supposed to be." 

She questioned the appointment of Sir John Chadwick to oversee the ex-gratia scheme. "There is no detailed timetable for this work; the link between maladministration, injustice and the remedy to be provided has been broken; and there is no definition of the concept of "disproportionate impact" which is to govern eligibility for a payment.

"Whatever the outcome of the work to be done by Sir John, it is clear that not everyone who has suffered injustice will be eligible for a payment and that not all of the injustice suffered will be put right."

She said the injustice identified in her report would not be remedied through the government's response. 

Click here to download the report

New Triviality Rules

In April 2006, HMRC introduced new rules allowing pension scheme members to cash-in their pension funds.  This is known as triviality.  Essentially, members between 60 and 75 with aggregated pension funds of less than 1% of the Lifetime Allowance (i.e. less than £17,500 in the 2009/10 tax year), could cash-in their pensions. 

Because these rules take into account aggregated pension funds, some members have been prevented from taking advantage and left with small funds (known as stranded pots) that have been difficult to annuitise.

HMRC is to introduce further triviality rules from 1 December 2009 to help members of occupational pension schemes.  The new rules are not for personal and stakeholder pensions.  Payments must not exceed £2,000 but are in addition to the existing triviality rules. 

Click here for further information about this change. 

Open Market Option (OMO) Transfers

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) introduced a new scheme to speed up OMO transfer earlier this year, known as 'Options'.  Last month, they announced that the scheme has already delivered a significant improvement in the time taken to complete OMO transfers, from three weeks to, on average, eight calendar days.

Click here to view the ABI's press release.

New ABI Publication

The ABI has published a leaflet answering important questions about pensions and annuities and the current economic climate. 

Click here to download a copy of the leaflet

Final Salary Scheme Closures

The past month has seen a number of firms announce the closure of their final salary schemes.  They include BP, Barclays Bank and Morrisons (the supermarket chain). 

Planned disruption to service at the Pension Service

The Pension Service has announced that new customers may experience a slight disruption to their services in June due to improvements to an IT system.  Their website states:

"This will affect certain benefits, including the State Pension and Bereavement Benefit. 

"Between noon on 19 June until noon on 24 June, the online pension forecasting will not be available. Instead you should telephone 0845 3000 168. Telephone lines are open 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 1pm on Saturday. 

"Existing payments of pensions will not be affected and State Pension applications and changes can still be made. 

"We have planned to make sure that customers continue to receive their payments even if the system is not restored when we expect it to be. 

"The system, once upgraded, will provide a much more efficient service.

Out and About

Over the next few months, we will be out and about, hosting stands at the following shows.  We will be more than happy to talk to visitors about any pension-related issue. 

17 & 18 July 2009 - The Retirement Show, London 

State Pension Age Calculator

State Pension Age's are changing for men and women. 

Between 2010 and 2020, the SPA for women will increase to 65 to ensure equality. Women born between 6 April 1950 and 5 April 1955 are affected by this change. 

Between 2024 and 2026, 2034 and 2036 and 2044 and 2046, the SPA for both men and women will rise to 66, 67 and 68, respectively.  Those born after 6 April 1959 are affected by these changes. 

Click here to use our SPA Calculator and see when you will be able to draw your State Pension. 

Website Feedback

We're always keen to know how our website can be improved.  Please therefore take a couple of minutes to fill out our feedback 

Click here for further information. 

Become a TPAS Adviser

TPAS is manned primarily by volunteers.  We are always on the lookout for new volunteers so, if you work in the pension industry and want to give some of your spare time to helping people with pension problems, please let us know. 

Click here for more information about volunteering.

Contact Us

If you have any pension questions, please feel free to contact us by calling our helpline on 0845 601 2923, emailing enquiries@pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk or writing to us at 11 Belgrave Road, London, SW1V 1RB.

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