MILLIONS of new pensioners were warned this week that they face a retirement of poverty after weeks of slashed annual payouts.
Pension companies have cut rates offered on their guaranteed annuity incomes 24 times since the start of summer.
Standard Life is the latest to do so, lopping five per cent off the rate offered to the newly-retired and those approaching retirement.
And male pensioners will suffer an extra blow later this year with the introduction of the EU’s new “gender directive” which will further force down annuities for men.
Craig Palfrey, founding partner of independent financial advisers Penguin Wealth, said: “Annuities are in meltdown. We’re way beyond red alert. They have been coming down relentlessly and Standard Life’s decision to take a sword to rates is just the latest example.
Twenty years ago a £100,000 pension fund would have guaranteed an income of £15,640 a year for life for a 65-year-old man. Now it is just £5,140 a year.
And the crisis decimating pensions is set to continue for months, perhaps even years, piling on the agony for the newly-retired.
Experts warn that the situation is likely to worsen as annuity providers struggle with volatility in the stock market and the Bank of England’s quantitative easing (QE) strategy to tackle the recession.
The money-printing policy has been attacked for triggering “a death spiral” in pensions, which some experts say has led to the worst retirement payouts in history.
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Millions will see pensions slashed by up to 20% as new EU rules are set to send annuities plummeting
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Millions of people could see the value of their pensions slashed by up to 20 per cent because of new EU rules.
Those with a £100,000 pension fund could be more than £1,100 per year worse off in retirement because of the reforms, research has shown.
The Solvency II rules, which are due to come into effect in January 2014, will force pension funds to hold a higher proportion of 'safe' Government bonds.
As the bonds - called gilts - have such low rates of return it will drive down the returns on retirement fund annuities, which are used to pension income.
The reforms are designed to make pension funds safer and reduce the risk of them going bust.
Annuities, which set retirement income for life, have already fallen to historic lows because of the impact of quantitative easing.
At present, a pension annuity fund may invest 20 per cent in low-yield gilts and the rest in riskier corporate bonds which have a higher rate of return.
But under the new EU rules, annuity funds will be forced to hold a higher percentage of gilts.
New research by Deloitte suggests annuity rates will plunge by between five and 20 per cent when the directive comes into force in January 2014.
A £100,000 pension pot currently gives an income of £5,837, but once the regulations come into effect they will be between £292 and £1,167 a year worse off.
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Savers approaching retirement are being advised to put off buying a lifetime annuity – or even to consider deferring retirement – as the euro crisis further reduces the income offered to UK pensioners.
Pension experts issued the advice after the FTSE 100 index suffered its largest one-day fall since November, as investors fled equities on fears of a Greek exit from the single currency – and bought into “haven” assets, such as government
This shift is significant for those planning their retirement as both the annuity income they can buy with their pension funds, and the income they can draw directly from their funds are determined by the yields on government bonds, or gilts. Heavy buying has pushed gilt prices up, reducing yields to record lows.
“It’s such an awful and difficult situation for anyone approaching retirement,” said Dr Ros Altmann, director-general of the Saga Group, the financial services group for over-50s. “If you can delay, it is worth considering because at some point there should be a correction in rates.”
Joanne Segars, chief executive of the National Association of Pension Funds, said: “People who are nearing their retirement need to think carefully about whether this is the right time to lock into the current low rates of interest.”
Advisers suggested taking pension cash in stages. “It’s possible to phase into retirement by taking tax-free cash only,” said Mike Morrison, head of pensions development with Axa Wealth. “In the short term, it may be possible to take income from elsewhere.”
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Annuity rates have plummeted by almost four per cent in the past three months, tearing a huge hole in future pensioners’ incomes. It is the biggest fall since September 2010 and means that average annuity rates are down by almost one tenth since June 2009. Turmoil in the Eurozone has played a part by causing the returns earned on British Government bonds, known as gilts – on which annuities depend – to fall sharply.
A man aged 65 with a £50,000 pension pot would have been able to purchase a conventional lifetime annual level income of £3,224 in 2009. But today that has dropped to only £2,902.
Enhanced annuities, which pay an increased rate based on the reduced
life expectancy of the annuitant due to medical conditions, have slumped by an
average of 2.45 per cent since last September.
A £50,000 pension fund would now buy an enhanced level lifetime annual
annuity income of £3,583 for a 65-year-old man compared with £3,913 in 2009.
Figures provided by Andrew Tully, technical director at MGM Advantage,
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Thousands of pensioners across the country have little hope of experiencing the
retirement lifestyle they would have wished for due to low annuity rates.
Any chance of a comfortable pension pot may have crumbled as annuity rates fall and high inflation eats away at what little is left.
UK adults are living longer, working less and spending more. According to the Office for National statistics, two thirds of men and three quarters of women now reach the age of 75. With this in mind, it can be hard to see a viable way of planning for your future financially, especially in such a fragile economy.
Britain may be on the brink of another recession and there is not much that those edging towards retirement can do personally about the low interest rates and high inflation. However, there are some forms of financial protection against sudden falls in the value of investment funds.
The amount of annual pension someone can buy with their savings has been falling for some time and there is little sign of improvement, so is now a good time to take out a pension?
Author – Moneyexpert.com full article - http://www.moneyexpert.com/financial-news/none/800580546/pensionpotsevaporateasannuityratesfall/article.aspx?affiliateid=405&campaign=A1505
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