Pension basics

What is a pension?

A pension is a source of regular income to live on when you retire.

Click here to view a short video describing what a pension is. 

What are the different types of pension schemes?

Qualifying workplace pension

As a result of automatic enrolment legislation, all employers have to offer their employees access to a workplace pension scheme that meets certain minimum standards. The LGPS meets these minimum standards and is, therefore, a qualifying workplace pension scheme.

National Employment Savings Trust (NEST)

NEST is the Government's workplace pension scheme set up for automatic enrolment.

Where an employer does not provide access to a workplace pension of its own they can use NEST to meet their workplace pension duties, no matter how large or small their organisation. They can use NEST on its own or alongside a scheme they already have in place.

Personal pensions

Personal pensions are provided by insurance companies and banks and are popular with the self-employed who do not have access to a workplace pension.

Some employers offer personal pension plans to their employees and pay contributions into it.

Personal pensions offer investors a choice of investment funds to choose from. These investments are used to buy a pension at retirement.

Stakeholder pensions

Stakeholder pensions are essentially low cost personal pension plans.

Given the changes to workplace pension schemes under automatic enrolment the future of employer sponsored stakeholder schemes are uncertain, as many will require amendment in order to meet the employer workplace pension duties.

Company (occupational) pensions

An occupational or company pension is another term for a workplace pension scheme. It is usually used to describe schemes run by private sector employers.

What is a tax free lump sum?

Pension schemes, whether they are work based or personal pensions, allow members to take part of their benefits as a tax free lump sum when they retire.

The LGPS can pay a tax free cash sum on retirement. This is, however, dependant on your period of membership in the scheme which will determine whether the lump sum is paid automatically or if it is paid through giving up some of your pension.

What is an annuity?

An annuity converts your money purchase pension into an income for the rest of your life.

Annuities are sold by life insurance companies and you can add different options and get different types depending on your needs and circumstances.

The LGPS pays pensions straight from the Scheme, so you will not be required to buy an annuity if you join the Scheme.

How do Career Average Revalued Earnings (or CARE) schemes work?

In a CARE scheme the pensionable pay for each year of membership is used, in order to calculate a pension amount for that particular year. That pension amount is then increased (revalued) each year in line with inflation. These individual pension amounts are then added together to arrive at the total pension payable from the scheme.

For more information visit the section 'How a CARE scheme works'.

How do defined contribution/money purchase schemes work?

You build up a pension fund using your contributions and your employer's contributions (if they make any) plus investment returns (if any) and tax relief.

When you retire you can take a tax free lump sum from your fund and use the rest to secure an income - usually in the form of an annuity.

Unlike LGPS there are no guarantees on how much you will receive. Most private sector employers offer their employees a defined contribution arrangement.

Your life, your pension

I am entering the workforce

When you first start working, your retirement will seem like it’s a long way off.

Small, regular amounts add up over time

You may not have much spare money when you’re just starting out in the workforce, and saving for your retirement might not be high on your list of priorities.

Being able to join a scheme like the LGPS can be an advantage, helping you on your way to a reasonable level of income when you retire. However, the pension you eventually receive from the fund and any other pensions you might have built up may not be enough for you to retire comfortably on. 

If you can afford it, it may be worth putting away a bit of extra into your pension each pay. It doesn’t even need to be much, but whatever you put in will build up over time and, you could be thanking yourself later on. Find out how you can pay extra into your pension.

Any decision to join a pension scheme or to pay extra in is an important one and you should make sure you receive proper financial advice before making any decisions.  

Get your pension together

You should keep track of all your pension savings during your career and take time every now and then to plan how much monthly income you think you will need in retirement.

The younger you are the harder it will be to plan what you might need, but try to work it out and keep it under review. As you get older you will get a better idea of how much pension you think you will need and if you have planned well it will be easier to reach your goal.

I am changing jobs

If you’re moving into a new job you will have important decisions to make.  

You will probably have the opportunity to join another company pension scheme with your new employer and may well be entered into that scheme automatically under automatic enrolment. Make sure you ask about it when you are going through the recruitment process.

You will also need to decide if you want to keep your benefits in the Scheme or transfer them to your new employer's pension scheme.

Changing jobs is also a good time to make sure your pension is still on track for a healthy retirement. 

Small, regular amounts add up over time

When you move to a new job you may want to reconsider how much you contribute to your pension. If you are earning more you may be able to afford to contribute more. 

Whatever decisions you take about joining your new employer’s pension scheme or transferring what you have in the fund, you should make sure you get financial advice.

I am supporting my family

It can be a busy time having a family. But it's important not to let your pension slip away.

Make sure you’ve got your family covered

Your LGPS pension gives you security for you and your family. If you were to die whilst you were still working, a lump sum and pension can be paid to your family.

You can also pay more so your family receives a bigger lump sum or pensions if you die while still working or after you have retired. These are valuable benefits which give you and your family some security if the worst were to happen.

The 50/50 Section

With children running around it's hard to find time to tie your own shoes, let alone make sure your pension's ok. You may not have a lot of spare money, but don't forget the difference a small amount each week will make to your final retirement benefits.

If you are thinking of opting out because of the cost, you can stay in the Scheme but pay less. 

There is an option called  the 50/50 Section that allows you to pay half of the contribution but only build up half the pension.

If you have more than one job you can make this choice in one, all or some of them.

Your survivor's benefits are unaffected.

Your employer will need you to make your choice in writing.

This is only meant to be a short term solution and you will have to again pay the full contribution rate when your employer has to re-enrol you every three years.

If you are away from work without pay due to sickness you will have to pay the full rate when your pay recommences.

Make extra contributions – every little bit counts

Find out how you can pay extra into your pension.

You should get financial advice before making any decision to pay more into your pension.

I am planning to retire

Pensions are a long term savings plan so it’s important to start planning as early as possible in your career.

The first thing you need to do is see whether you will have enough to fund the kind of retirement you want.

Consider your retirement options

As you approach retirement we will send you details of your options.

You need to make some important decisions about how you want to take your benefits. You can take the standard package, for most members that will be a pension with an option to choose to give up some of your pension for a lump sum. If you have Additional Voluntary Contributions these will give you even more options.

Get some advice

Before you make any major decisions it’s important to get financial advice.

You can also contact us to talk about your retirement.

I am being automatically-enrolled/re-enrolled

When you are first automatically enrolled or when you are re-enrolled you have important decisions to make about whether you choose to remain in the Scheme.

Small, regular amounts add up over time

You may not have much spare money when you are automatically enrolled or re-enrolled, and saving for your retirement might not be high on your list of priorities at that time.

Being able to join the LGPS can be an advantage, helping you on your way to a reasonable level of income when you retire. However, the pension you eventually receive and any other pensions you might have built up may not be enough for you to retire comfortably on.

If you can afford it, it may be worth putting away a bit of extra into your pension each pay day. It doesn't even need to be much, but whatever you put in will build up over time and, you could be thanking yourself later on.

Find out how you can pay extra into your pension.

Whatever decisions you reach about remaining in the Scheme or opting back out of it you should make sure you receive proper financial advice before making any decisions.

Get your pension together

You should keep track of all your pension savings during your career and take time every now and then to plan how much monthly income you think you will need in retirement.

The younger you are the harder it will be to plan what you might need, but try to work it out and keep it under review. As you get older you will get a better idea of how much pension you think you will need and if you have planned well it will be easier to reach your goal.

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