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State Pension Rises to £144 a week, Queen’s Speech ConfirmsCreated by Arabela in Retirement and pensions
Planning your retirement is set to get easier from April 2016, as the Queen’s Speech confirmed a new, flat-rate state pension of £144-a-week for all.
The Queen’s confirmation ushers in a new chapter of retirement planning, as the flat-rate state pension will mean an income of £144 a week for everyone with a full employment record (35 years of National Insurance contributions). This will replace the current, more complicated state pension system of a basic £107-a-week plus means-tested top-ups.
Solid foundation for planning
The current state pension system, which can give anywhere from £107 a week to around £142 a week, makes it difficult for people to know how much the government will provide them in retirement. Without concrete knowledge of what the state pension pays, many people have planned to live entirely or mostly on their state pension income at retirement. However, even at £144 a week, the state pension pays much less than a minimum wage salary. Can you live comfortably on less than minimum wage?
If the answer is no, then it’s time to start planning for retirement. Take the amount of your future state pension – £144, or around £7,500 annually if you’re retiring after April 2016 – and subtract it from how much you will need to survive each year. This figure should include mortgage payments, car insurance, life insurance such as over 50s plans, emergency funds and extra money for holidays. The amount leftover is how much you will privately need to provide for yourself through a pension or long-term savings in an ISA, offered by providers like Shepherd’s Friendly.
Problems with the new system
Though the new £144-a-week pension will make it easier for people to understand how much the state will provide for them, and in turn how much they will need to provide for themselves, the system isn’t perfect. For one thing, the flat rate of £144 is barely 1% higher than the amount that people on Pension Credit already receive, so the jump from the current £107 to £144 isn’t as large as it may seem. Michelle Mitchell of Age UK brought up another problem, which will largely affect women, when speaking to This is Money: “’The single tier will help many women but Age UK is particularly concerned about a small group of women who were relying on their husbands’ NI record, but will lose out under new arrangements and face a worrying future because they do not have time to change their retirement plans.”
This is because currently, women relying on their spouses’ National Insurance record can claim a “married person’s allowance,” which would give them £66 a week. The new flat-rate state pension will abolish the married person’s allowance, hurting thousands of women who may be too close to retirement to do anything about it.
“We are calling on the government to protect this group, for example, allowing those within 15 years of State Pension Age to retain [married person’s allowance],” said Ms Mitchell.