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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Families' budgets are squeezed by increased utility costs, soaring food prices and salary freezes.
Five million households currently face increases in their fuel bills of up to £100-a-year as SSE, the UK’s second biggest energy company after British Gas, said that from mid-October the price of an average annual dual fuel bill will rise from £1,172 to £1,274. Other companies are expected to follow suit.
As well as energy bills rising, mortgage payments are set to increase as other lenders follow Santander’s suit in upping its Standard Variable Rate (SVR).
Many individual salaries are being frozen and one in ten employees is being forced to
take a pay cut.
With the combination of increased utility costs, soaring food prices and a
compounding squeeze on salaries, Moneysupermarket.com has found that 80pc of
households are on a financial budget irrespective of income, demographic or family set up.
In order to ease the financial burden many Brits making extensive cut backs where
they can. Almost half of us have had to use credit in order to pay utility bills, while a 25pc of adults have said that they are forced to rely more on credit cards to ensure that the regular household outgoings are covered.
Clare Francis financial expert at Moneysupermarket.com comments: "The fact a rise in outgoings of £50 or less would tip a third of Brits to ‘financial breaking point’ speaks volumes about how difficult people are finding things at the moment."
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Inflation soared to 5.2 per cent in September, the highest level for three years, leaving savers with fewer ways to earn a real return on their savings.
Inflation figures released on Tuesday show that the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) -the index used by the government to measure inflation - rose from 4.5 per cent in August to 5.2 per cent in September.
According to the Office for National Statistics, this is the highest level since September 2008 when CPI was also 5.2 per cent.
It said the biggest upward pressure in inflation came from increases in gas and electricity charges. Over the past few months, consumers have seen a rapid rise in domestic gas and electricity bills, with annual bills rising to £1,345 a year for the average household, double the £740 average five years ago.
Figures from Moneyfacts, the independent financial information provider, the latest rise in inflation means there are no regular savings accounts that beat inflation in the current market.
To beat inflation, a basic rate taxpayer at 20 per cent needs to find a savings account paying 6.5 per cent, while a higher rate taxpayer at 40 per cent needs to find an account paying at least 8.67 per cent.
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