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The Difference Between The Best And Worst Pension Incomes Can Be Very Surprising

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Flat-rate pension receives mixed reviews

Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) recently revealed a wide disparity between state pension payments, with some retirees surviving on less than £7 a week and others receiving around £230 a week.

Pensions minister Steve Webb has called for an end to “playing roulette” with retirees’ income, proposing a flat-rate pension of around £140 a week, set above the means-testing level.

While the system would end ‘complex’ system of state pension payouts, some argue that the planned changes may fail to simplify the system.

Expanding this point, Malcolm McLean, consultant for Barnett Waddingham, an independent firm of actuaries and consultants, said: “The reform is unlikely, initially anyway, to make a dramatic difference to the range of pension rates...

“This is because on the basis of previous statements there will still be an national insurance contribution test.”

He went onto argue that pension contributors may still fall short of the 30-year qualifying requirement, and as a result they may only be entitled to a proportion of the full-rate pension.

Tom McPhail, head of pensions research for Bristol-based Hargreaves Lansdown argued that middle and high earners may fare better under the current system than the proposed flat-rate.

“It is not clear whether the DWP’s decision to publish these figures this week are a prelude to the publication of the White paper, or a nudge to Downing Street to get it signed off,” he said.

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