HMRC: More than £2.7bn withdrawn from pensions since April

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More than £2.7bn has been withdrawn from pensions through flexible payments since the retirement freedoms were launched, according to figures from the HMRC.

The tax office says a total of 146,000 people accessed the freedoms through 251,000 payments between April and September.

While the total number of payments and individuals remained broadly flat in Q2 and Q3, the total value of payments dropped off from July.

Savers took £1.56bn in the three months from April, and £1.17bn between July and September, according to the Revenue.

The totals include partial or full withdrawals, money taken from a flexible drawdown account and purchases of a flexible annuity. However, they do not include tax-free cash payments.

In order to manage the burden on the industry, reporting of the figures was not made compulsory by HMRC, although this will change from April 2016.

HMRC’s figures are in stark contrast to those produced by The Association of British Insurers, which reported last month that savers had accessed £2.4bn in the first three months of the freedoms.

HMRC head of pensions and savings policy analysis Mark Spivack says: “We are confident that this represents a good majority of the industry, but we are unable to be definitive.”