Pension Drawdown Page

How much of my pension can I take tax-free?

560 315 Eleonore Bylo

Many over-55s are unaware that they can access 25% of their pension pot tax-free.

A surprising 43% of individuals over 55 need to be made aware that they can withdraw 25% of their pension pot tax-free, according to recent research[1]. Knowledge could lead to better decision making when it comes to accessing pension savings.

Similarly, 52% of those surveyed between the ages of 50 and 54 were also unaware of this rule, indicating a widespread lack of understanding about pension withdrawal options.

We answer the important questions regarding tax-free pension withdrawals.

How much can I withdraw from my pension tax-free?

Typically, most people can withdraw 25% of their total pension pot tax-free, although this may vary depending on the type of pension plan and if you’ve exceeded your lifetime allowance. The remaining 75% is subject to Income Tax when withdrawn.

When can I take my tax-free lump sum?

Generally, you can access your pension savings, including the tax-free lump sum, at age 55 (rising to 57 in 2028). In rare cases, you may be able to access your pension earlier due to ill health or a protected scheme.

Can I take my lump sum in smaller amounts?

This depends on your pension product and its terms. Taking smaller withdrawals over time can be beneficial in most cases, as it allows for potential growth and tax-efficiency.

Should I take my lump sum immediately?

It’s essential to consider the longevity of your pension savings throughout retirement. Taking too much too soon could result in running out of funds later in life. Delaying access to your savings may allow for additional growth.

Are there any implications to be aware of?

Accessing your pension savings can impact state benefits, such as Universal Credit or Pension Credit. Additionally, taking a tax-free lump sum won’t affect the amount you can contribute to your pension plan, but accessing taxable income may reduce your annual allowance.

Professional financial advice

Understanding your pension withdrawal options and seeking professional financial advice will help you make informed decisions and maximise your retirement savings. To learn more about how we can help you, please contact us today.

Source data: [1] Opinium conducted research among 2,000 UK adults aged 18+ between 12″16 May 2023 for Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group. Results have been weighted to be nationally representative.

Important information: A pension is a long-term investment not normally accessible until age 55 (57 from April 2028 unless the plan has a protected pension age). The value of your investments (and any income from them) can go down as well as up, which would have an impact on the level of pension benefits available. Your pension income could also be affected by the interest rates at the time you take your benefits.

How can we help you?

I have understood and accept the terms of the Privacy Policy*

Pension pot options

560 315 Eleonore Bylo

What can I do with my pension pot?

  1. Leave it untouched for now and take the money later
  2. Receive a guaranteed income (annuity)
  3. Receive an adjustable income (flexi-access drawdown)
  4. Take cash in lump sums (drawdown)
  5. Cash in your whole pot in one go
  6. Mix your options

For more guidance on your pension planning options, please get in touch.

What can I do with my pension pot

560 315 Eleonore Bylo

Grow and protect your pension, both now and in the future.

For most, retirement will be funded in the main by a pension. It is therefore vital you have a robust plan in place that will allow you to grow and protect your pension, both now and in the future.

With ever-changing rules and regulations, we now have a pension system that is often difficult to navigate, putting many of using this as a savings vehicle.

When it comes to deciding how to use your pension pot, there’s no one ‘right answer’. The earliest you can start getting a Defined Contribution pension is usually when you’re 55 – you should check this with your pension provider. You might be able to get your pension sooner if you’re retiring due to ill health.

What are your pension options to consider?

Leave your pension pot untouched for now and take the money later

It’s up to you when you take your money. You might have reached the normal retirement date under the scheme or received a pack from your pension provider, but that doesn’t mean you have to take the money now. If you delay taking your pension until a later date, your pot continues to grow tax-free, potentially providing more income once you access it. If you do not take your money, we can check the investments and charges under the contract.

Receive a guaranteed income (annuity)

You can use your whole pension pot, or part of it, to buy an annuity. It typically gives you a regular and guaranteed income. You can normally withdraw up to a quarter (25%) of your pot as a one-off tax-free lump sum, then convert the rest into an annuity, providing a taxable income for life.

Some older policies may allow you to take more than 25% as tax-free cash We can review this with your pension provider. There are different lifetime annuity options and features to choose from that affect how much income you would get.

Receive an adjustable income (flexi-access drawdown)

With this option, you can normally take up to 25% (a quarter) of your pension pot, or of the amount you allocate for pension drawdown, as a tax-free lump sum, then re-invest the rest into funds designed to provide you with a regular taxable income. You set the income you want, though this might be adjusted periodically depending on the performance of your investments. Unlike with a lifetime annuity, your income isn’t guaranteed for life, so you need to manage your investments carefully.

Take cash in lump sums (drawdown)

How much and when you take your money is up to you. You can use your existing pension pot to take cash as and when you need it and leave the rest untouched, where it can continue to grow tax-free. For each cash withdrawal, normally the first 25% (quarter) is tax-free, and the rest counts as taxable income.

There might be charges each time you make a cash withdrawal and/or limits on how many withdrawals you can make each year. With this option, your pension pot isn’t re-invested into new funds specifically chosen to pay you a regular income, and it won’t provide for a dependent after you die. There are also tax implications to consider that we can discuss with you.

Cash in your whole pot in one go

You can do this, but there are certain things you need to think about. There are clear tax implications from withdrawing all your money from a pension. Taking your whole pot as cash could mean you end up with a large tax bill – for most people, it will be more tax-efficient to use one of the other options. Cashing in your pension pot will not give you a secure retirement income.

Mix your options

You don’t have to choose one option: you can mix them over time or over your total pot when deciding how to access your pension. You can mix and match as you like and take cash and income at different times to suit your needs. You can also keep saving into a pension if you wish and get tax relief up to age 75.

Financial situation at retirement

It is important to sum up the pros and cons of taking an annuity vs drawdown.

The way you draw an income from your pension is likely to be largely determined by your financial situation at retirement. Will you, for example, still be paying of your mortgage, or do you have any other significant debts? What other income sources, aside from the State Pension, will you have at your disposal?

While an annuity can offer you the security of a guaranteed regular income, a drawdown plan gives you the chance to grow your pension and overall wealth during retirement. The latter route is likely to suit those with a stronger appetite for risk, as any significant market swings could potentially cause serious damage to your pension savings.

For more information on our pension planning services, please do not hesitate to get in touch to start your financial planning journey today.

Annuity vs Drawdown

560 315 Eleonore Bylo

Ensure your retirement strategy meets your needs and goals

Pension annuities

Benefits Risks
Provides guaranteed income for life and cannot be affected by market fluctuations. If you pass away shortly after taking one, you won’t benefit from the full value you paid upfront.
Some policies guarantee indexation meaning the pension will rise with inflation over time. Rates tend to be lower when interest rates fall, so you may get less than you had hoped for when taking your pension.

Pension Drawdown

Benefits Risks
Offers more flexibility and money can be taken when it is needed. Markets can potentially be volatile and there may be no guaranteed income from investments.
Any money left in the drawdown pot will not be liable for Inheritance Tax. If too much is taken out of your drawdown pot, then you could face hefty tax bills.

Retirement planning services

It’s important that professional advice is taken before deciding upon a retirement strategy. The right strategy should be tailored to the individual’s needs and circumstances.

What is pension drawdown?

150 150 Eleonore Bylo

Financial Planner, Amy Burge, explains what Pension Drawdown is, what pension planning services we offer and how she has helped a client with their pension planning.

Pension drawdown or annuity?

560 315 Eleonore Bylo

Make sure your retirement strategy meets your needs and goals.

It’s important to make a well-informed decision when it comes to deciding what to do with your pension pot: drawdown, annuity, or a combination of both. Making the right choice will affect your retirement for many years.

Pension drawdown gives you freedom and flexibility, allowing you to choose your annual income, whereas annuities provide steady income and security. For those who want both, they can purchase an annuity with part of their pension whilst keeping the rest in a drawdown agreement – giving them the best of both worlds.

The decision of whether to use drawdown or annuities can be a complex one, and professional advice is essential. Depending on your circumstances, either option may be suitable, with some preferring the security of knowing their income will remain stable for life, while others find the greater flexibility of drawdown more conducive to their retirement plans.

Flexible access pension (drawdown)

Pension drawdown can provide more flexibility and control over how your money is managed in retirement. Drawdown is an increasingly popular option for retirees to receive an income during their retirement. This method of taking an income allows individuals to access their pension fund in a tax-efficient way, as withdrawals are only taxable when they exceed the Personal Allowance.

The main advantage of pension drawdown for retirees is that it offers more flexibility than other options such as annuities or lump sum payments. Retirees can take out whatever amount they require, when they need it, and don’t have to commit to fixed payments over time, allowing them the freedom to make their own decisions on how they wish to use their pension savings.

Another benefit is that any money left in the drawdown pot will not be liable for Inheritance Tax. This is beneficial for those who wish to leave a legacy for their beneficiaries, as the remaining investment can pass directly to them without being taxed.

On the other hand, choosing drawdown does come with some risks. Retirees should consider that markets can potentially be volatile and there may be no guaranteed income from investments. Withdrawing too much capital can also leave you exposed should you live longer than anticipated. It’s important that individuals understand how they plan to invest their pension savings and how any losses or gains might affect them in future years. Additionally, if retirees take too much out of their drawdown pot, then they could face hefty tax bills.

Overall, it’s important that professional advice is taken before deciding upon a retirement strategy. While drawdown can offer more flexibility than other options, it’s important to weigh up all the pros and cons before deciding. Ultimately, the right strategy should be tailored to the individual’s needs and circumstances.

Pension Annuities

In contrast to drawdown, pension annuities provide a guaranteed lifetime income, but they also carry risk; if you die shortly after taking out an annuity it means that you won’t benefit from the full value that you paid for upfront. This can make them unsuitable for those with shorter life expectancies compared to those who are expected to live longer. The current rates available on annuities may be attractive when compared to those in the recent past, and this can be an incentive for those previously deterred by low returns.

The benefits of an annuity include long-term security, since the income is guaranteed for life and cannot be affected by fluctuations in investment returns or other market factors. Plus, some policies guarantee indexation which means that the pension will rise with inflation over time. This helps to ensure that retirees have sufficient funds to maintain their lifestyle going forward.

However, there are also downsides to consider when deciding whether an annuity is right for you. Annuity rates tend to be lower when interest rates fall, so you may get less than you had hoped for when taking your pension. Plus, the income is fixed and cannot be adjusted, so if your circumstances change in retirement and you require more funds it may not be possible to increase the amount you are receiving.

Ultimately, professional advice should always be sought with an annuity purchase as there can be a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration before making a decision. It is important to fully understand the terms of the policy and make sure that it is suitable for your individual situation before committing to anything long-term.

Combination of drawdown and annuities

For some people, a combination of pension drawdown and annuities may provide the best balance between security of income and control over withdrawals – we can help to determine which option is most suitable for you. Ultimately, it’s important to understand all aspects of both drawdown and annuities, including the pros and cons of each, before deciding.

Making sound financial decisions requires due diligence and considering all relevant factors so that your retirement goals are met in the most efficient way possible. Therefore, it is important to consider both drawdown and annuities when planning for retirement, and professional advice is key to making an informed decision. With the right knowledge and professional advice, you will be able to decide as to which option is most suitable for your circumstances.

By considering all relevant factors, you can make sure your retirement strategy meets your needs and goals.

Our retirement planning services

As we all live longer and enjoy unprecedented freedom to decide our own retirement options, it has never been more important to have clarity over what you want to do and how much money you’ll need to achieve that.

Through our retirement planning services, we can help you position your finances so that you are confident of maintaining a good standard of living and have the income to realise your life goals, whatever they may be. For more information, please contact us.

Busting the myths about pensions

560 315 Eleonore Bylo

If you are approaching retirement age, it’s important to know your pension is going to finance your future plans and provide the lifestyle you want once you stop working. Pension legislation is extremely complex and it’s not realistic to expect everyone to understand it completely. But, since we all hope to retire one day, it is important to get to grips with some of the basics.

Many of us have made pension provision, but some of us don’t know very much about the details. To help you get a handle on some of the myths around pensions, we’ve got answers to some of the things you may have been wondering about. It’s particularly helpful to become aware of the things you may have thought were facts that are actually myths. Here are some examples.

Myth: The government pays your pension

Fact: The government pays most UK adults over the pension age a State Pension, which is currently:

  • Retired post-April 2016 full rate State Pension of £185.15 a week
  • Retired pre-April 2016 full rate basic State Pension of £141.85 a week (a top-up is available for some, called the Additional State Pension)Not everyone is eligible for the full amount, which requires you to have at least 35 qualifying years on your National Insurance record. If you have less than ten qualifying years on your record, you’ll receive nothing. Even if you receive the full amount, you’ll usually need to supplement it with your own pension savings.

Myth: Your employer pays your pension

Fact: Most people are automatically enrolled into a workplace pension. Your employer is usually required to pay a minimum of 3% of your salary into it and you must also pay a minimum of 5% of your salary. If you keep your contributions at the minimum level, it might be difficult to save enough for retirement.

As life expectancies grow longer, your retirement can be almost as long as your working life. It’s therefore important to put aside a portion of your earnings to create a pension pot that will enable you to receive the income and live the lifestyle you want during retirement.

Myth: You can’t save more than your lifetime allowance

Fact: There is a lifetime allowance on the benefits you can access from your pension, which is currently £1,073,100 (tax year 2022/23). That doesn’t mean that you can’t withdraw any more after that, but it does mean that you’ll pay a tax charge of up to 55%. However, it was announced in the Spring Budget 2023 that this will be abolished from April 2023.

Myth: Your pension provider’s default fund is suitable for everyone

Fact: Most pension default funds will start out with a high-risk strategy and steadily move your capital into lower-risk investments, such as bonds and cash, as you get closer to retirement. This is to reduce volatility in the value of your investments so that you can have a higher degree of confidence in how much you’ll eventually end up with.

If you don’t plan to purchase an annuity, you don’t necessarily need to reduce volatility before retirement. You may be leaving some of your money invested for several more decades, in which case a higher risk strategy may be more appropriate.

Myth: Annuities are outdated

Fact: There was a time when almost everyone bought an annuity when they retired, and that time has passed because there are now alternative ways to access your pension savings. But annuities still have a useful role for generating a retirement income and can be an appropriate product for some people. Unlike other pension withdrawal methods, such as drawdown, an annuity offers a fixed income for life, so there’s no risk of your money running out. That’s a crucial benefit for many pensioners.

Myth: You can’t pass on a pension

Fact: If you’ve used your pension savings to purchase an annuity, the income from this will usually cease when you die. But if you have pension savings that you haven’t used to buy an annuity (for example, if you’ve been taking an income through drawdown), what’s left can be passed on to a loved one. If you die before the age of 75 there will usually be no tax to pay by the beneficiary. Otherwise, they will need to pay Income Tax according to their tax band.

Get in touch

If you would like more information on our pension planning services or are looking for financial advice, then please book a chat.

Taxing Times

560 315 Eleonore Bylo

Time for a tax health check?

With the current tax year having begun on 6 April 2022, the clock is ticking and it is important to utilise all the tax reliefs and allowances available to you before 5 April 2023 in order to minimise any potential liabilities.

Personal tax planning should be at the top of your agenda as the end of the current tax year is not too far away. Taking action now may give you the opportunity to take advantage of any remaining reliefs, allowances and exemptions.

At the same time, you should be considering whether there are any planning opportunities that you need to consider either for this tax year or for your long-term future. We’ve listed a few reminders of the issues you may want to consider as worthy of including in your 2022/23 tax health check to-do list.

Some key things you might need to action before the tax year end

1. Personal reliefs

Married couples should consider utilising each person’s personal reliefs, as well as their starting and basic rate tax bands. Could you make gifts of income-producing assets (which must be outright and unconditional) to distribute income more evenly between you both?

2. Salary sacrifice

This is an especially tax-efficient way for you to make pension contributions, to save and reduce your Income Tax and National Insurance.
Have you considered exchanging part of your salary for payments into an approved share scheme or additional pension contributions?

3. Pensions annual allowance

Unless you are an additional rate taxpayer or have already accessed pension benefits then you are entitled to make up to £40,000 of pension contributions per tax year. Have you fully utilised your tax-efficient contributions for this tax year or any unused allowances from the three previous tax years?

4. Stakeholder pensions

A stakeholder pension is available to any United Kingdom resident under the age of 75. Children can also make annual net contributions of £2,880 per year, making the gross amount £3,600 regardless of any earnings. It is also a very beneficial way of giving children or grandchildren a helping hand for the future. Is this an option you or a family member should be utilising?

5. Large pension funds

The Pension Lifetime Allowance (LTA) is currently £1,073,100 and has been frozen at this level until the 2025/26 tax year. The maximum you can pay in is £40,000 per annum unless you pay tax at 45% in which case the annual limit could be as low as £4,000. Inflationary increases by the end of the current tax year could also have an impact on your pension funds. Do you have a plan in place to protect your money from this?

6. Pension drawdown

If your are 55 or over you could access 25% tax-free cash from your Defined Contribution (also known as Money Purchase) pension pots and invest the rest. However, drawing large amounts in one tax year can lead to a larger tax bill than if spread over a longer period. Do you know the implications of taking money out of your pension pots?

7. Passing on your pension

Usually called a ‘spousal by-pass trust’, although the recipient may not always be a spouse, this is a discretionary trust set up by the pension scheme member or pension holder to receive pension death benefits. Are your pension death benefits written in trust?

8. Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs)

An ISA allows you to save and invest tax-efficiently into a cash savings or investment account. The proceeds are shielded from Income Tax,
tax on dividends and Capital Gains Tax. The government puts a cap on how much you can put into your ISA or ISAs in any tax year (from 6 April to 5 April). The ISA allowance for 2022/23 is set at £20,000. Have you fully utilised the maximum annual allowance?

9. Junior ISAs

This is a long-term tax-efficient savings account set up by a parent or guardian, specifically for the child’s future. Only the child can access the money, and only once they turn 18. Have you invested the maximum £9,000 allowance for your child or children?

10. Lifetime ISAs (LISAs)

The Lifetime ISA (LISA) is a tax-efficient savings or investments account designed to help those aged 18 to 39 at the time of opening to buy their first home or save for retirement. The government will provide a 25% bonus on the money invested, up to a maximum of £1,000 per year. You can save up to £4,000 a year, and can continue to pay into it until you reach age 50. Could you be taking advantage of this very tax-efficient option?

11. Capital Gains Tax (CGT)

There are two different rates of CGT – one for property and one for other assets. If your assets are owned jointly with another person, you could use both of your allowances, which can effectively double the amount you can make before CGT is payable. If you are married or in a registered civil partnership, you are free to transfer assets to each other without any CGT being charged. It is currently £12,300 but will be reduced to £6,000 from 6 April 2023 and £3,000 from 6 April 2024. Have you fully used your current £12,300 annual exemption?

12. Inheritance Tax (IHT) relief

IHT must be paid on the value of any estate above £325,000, or up to £1 million for married couples including the residence nil-rate band). However, certain business assets, including some types of shares and farmland, in private trading companies can qualify for 100% relief from IHT. The government has frozen the IHT thresholds for two more years to April 2028. Are you taking advantage of the reliefs available to you?

13. Residence nil-rate band (RNRB)

This allowance was introduced during the 2017/18 tax year and is available when a main residence is passed on death to a direct descendant. The allowance is currently £175,000. When combined with the nil-rate band of £325,000, this provides a total IHT exemption of £500,000 per person, or £1 million per married couple. If you are planning to give away your home to your children or grandchildren (including adopted, foster and stepchildren) the RNRB must be claimed. There is a form for this purpose – IHT435. The form is available on the website. If applicable, have you applied for the RNRB?

14. Charitable and personal gifts

If you leave at least 10% of your net estate to charity a reduced inheritance rate of 36% applies rather than the usual 40%. Other exemptions apply for inter-spousal transfers, transfers of unused annual income, business and agricultural assets, and for various other fixed, small amounts. Are you intending to make gifts before the end of the current tax year?

15. Trust funds

These help protect your assets and guarantee that your loved ones have financial stability for their future. Crucially, a trust can help to avoid IHT and ensure that the majority of your money, shares and equity are passed on in the most efficient way. Should you consider setting up a trust? Future legislation could potentially result in changes to tax law, which could in turn require adjustments to your plans.

Want to talk about a tax health check?

We hope you find this checklist useful, but please bear in mind that this only provides a summary of the options available and not all options will be suitable for everyone. Therefore, for more information in respect of the ideas outlined, please contact us.

A pension is a long-term investment not normally accessible until age 55 (57 from April 2028 unless plan has a protected pension age). The value of your investments (and any income from them) can go down as well as up which would have an impact on the level of pension benefits available. Your pension income could also be affected by the interest rates at the time you take your benefits. The value of your investments can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invested. The financial conduct authority does not regulate taxation and trust advice. Trusts are a highly complex area of financial planning.


Pension Drawdown

560 315 Eleonore Bylo

You can usually choose to take up to 25% of your pension pot as a tax-free lump sum when you move some or all your pension pot into drawdown, from the age of 55.

You will need to carefully consider where to invest the remaining 75% (or less if you have not needed to take the full 25%), taking your likely income needs and attitude to risk into careful consideration.

  • 1
  • 2