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22 June 2020

Comment on report on inequalities in pension tax relief

Commenting on the ABI’s commissioned report from the Pensions Policy Institute (PPI) which suggest that the inequalities in the pension tax relief system should be looked at, Lesley Carline, President of the Pensions Management Institute, said:

Amending the rate of tax relief is all very well, but the rate itself is just one inequality and fairness requires us to address them all. Firstly, there is the relevance of tax relief to members of defined benefit (DB) schemes since there is no direct correlation between contribution rates and benefit accrual. Secondly, and probably the most pressing at the moment, is the anomaly between the net pay arrangement and relief-at-source (RAS) for DC members who are low earners.

In a recent PMI survey, we asked if, after lockdown, the Government were to seek fiscal savings from the pensions system, where would it look for them: 74% of respondents believed that the Government would abolish the triple lock in order to make savings, 61% expect to see a fixed rate of pensions tax relief and 24% think that the industry will see an accelerated increase in the state pension age.

Since its introduction, the Triple Lock has been under fire for being unreasonably generous – particularly during an era of austerity. However, we would expect a Conservative Government to be cautious about antagonising a social cohort it has traditionally looked to for electoral support. It is unlikely that the nation’s retired people will react sympathetically to any attack on the indexation of State pensions, and after the Government’s handling of the Covid-19 emergency, any further measures, seen as detrimental to the elderly, would present a significant political risk.


This article first appeared on Actuarial Post.

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