Why save into a pension?
Saving into a pension is one of the key ways to make sure you have enough money for retirement. This is particularly important because the maximum State Pension is currently only £9,339.20 a year (2021/22), and it may come under further pressure in the future.
Pensions are also increasingly flexible thanks to new pension legislation, which gives you more options for what to do with your money when you reach retirement.
The benefits of saving into a pension
Unlike most other saving products, pension plans can be boosted by employer contributions and by money from the government in the form of tax relief.
1. Employer contributions
New Auto Enrolment pension rules mean that your employer must offer you a workplace pension and they must contribute to it as long as you’re making contributions. This effectively means that with a workplace pension plan you get free money from your employer towards your retirement.
2. Tax relief
Saving into a pension plan, whether it’s workplace or personal means that the government contributes too, in the form of tax relief. For every £100 paid into a pension by a basic rate taxpayer, the government pays in £25, making the total contribution £125. The limit on tax relievable contributions is currently set at £40,000 per year or 100% of your salary (whichever is lower).
If you’re a higher rate taxpayer you can claim a further 25% tax top up through your tax return, rising to 31% for those who pay the top rate of tax. If you are a non-earner or earn less than £3,600 annually, you can contribute up to £2,880 net to your pension, so that once tax relief is added your total annual contribution is £3,600.
3. No inheritance tax
Pensions also fare well compared to other savings products when it comes to inheritance tax. If you die before the age of 75, your pension can usually be passed on as a lump sum without inheritance tax deductions.
Usually, when you save into a pension plan your money will be invested in a professionally-managed portfolio, spreading your assets across a range of funds. This is a good way of managing risk, as it’s unlikely that all of the asset types will drop in value at the same time.
How much to save into a pension
When you’re deciding on your level of pension contributions, you should think about the following:
- The balance of any existing pension(s)
- Number of years left working
- Your planned retirement age
- Your ideal retirement income
A rough rule of thumb is that you should try to pay 15% of your annual salary into your pension. If you’ve got some money left over each month then your pension is a good place to put it, especially because the tax relief makes a pension more attractive than other saving products. It’s a good idea to increase your pension contributions when your salary increases.
What level of pension contributions do most people make?
The most recent figures from the government showed that around 10.4 million people contributed to a personal pension in 2017-2018 and that the average annual contribution that year was £2,711 (approx. £226 per month*). This is the gross amount contributed, meaning it includes employer contributions and tax relief.
The average annual contribution differed markedly between the genders and age brackets, and this is only the average for one year.
How to save into your pension
If you’re paying into a workplace pension, your employer will usually deduct your contributions from your salary before they pay your wages.
If you have a personal pension, you can save money into your pension plan by setting up a Direct Debit for regular contributions or making one-off payments by bank transfer.
Open a PensionBee plan and you can easily save money into your pension by setting up regular or one-off contributions online. Your employer can also choose to pay contributions into your plan.
(* Source: Personal Pensions Statistics)
As always with investments, with a pension your capital is at risk. The value of your investment can go down as well as up, and you may get back less than you invest. This information should not be regarded as financial advice.
Last edited: 06-04-2021