Richard Harrington, who was made pensions secretary by Theresa May soon after she assumed office as Prime Minister in July last year, recently wrote an article for This Is Money divulging his spending tips for 2017. It’s a piece littered with what could be called ‘financial advice’, so what does the new minister recommend we do with our wealth this year?
Harrington’s first piece of advice is to look at your pension, even if you’re not going to be retiring for many years to come. The government has set up a website called ‘Check Your State Pension’, which can be found at www.gov.uk/check-state-pension and allows you to see an estimate of your state pension’s worth and when you’ll currently be eligible to receive it. There’s also a Pension Tracing Service set up by the government at www.gov.uk/find-pension-contact-details to help you identify pension schemes you’ve paid into in the past of which you may have lost track.
The article also advises those already in retirement to look into whether the State Pension Top Up Scheme will benefit them. The scheme allows those who reached state pension age before 6th April 2016 to make a one-off payment to increase their retirement income by up to £25 a week, but it’s only available until the end of the current tax year.
Other key pieces of advice from Harrington include urging younger earners to leave their pensions alone to ensure contributions made now have decades to build up interest, and looking into whether your employer will match any increases in pension contributions you decide to make.
The pensions secretary also warns against the many pensions scams still operating within the UK, advising strong caution against anyone offering attractive rewards for investing pension savings. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is, so do your research thoroughly and check with the Financial Conduct Authority to avoid losing your hard-earned money.
Harrington ends his article with a reminder that the UK has no set retirement age and that over 1.2 million over 65s are still employed, so if you enjoy your job there’s no compulsion for you to retire immediately. Delaying your state pension if you choose to carry on working can give your income a healthy boost when you do decide to retire.