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Spoiling tactics see dogma defeat reason

by Tom McPhail

The Asp announcements are a triumph of dogma over reason.

The Treasury knew that having introduced alternatively secured pensions, it could not then abolish them so soon, so instead it has set out deliberately to spoil them.

The imposition of unauthorised payment charges of up to 70 per cent, combined with IHT charges of 40 per cent mean that the death benefits from Asps could be liable to total charges of 82 per cent.

This is disproportionate and vindictive. The Asp rules worked. They delivered tax revenue to the Government and they gave wealthy investors a degree of control over their pension fund.

Best of all, by encouraging wealthy investors to opt out of the annuity pool via Asps, the Government was enabling annuity providers to offer better rates to low-earners.

The Government claims that the Turner Commission supported compulsory annuitisation. This is a misrepresentation of the facts.

Turner also suggested that wealthy investors should be required to secure a minimum level of income and then be free to exercise control over the balance of their pension fund.

The introduction of the income parameters is not a problem. Raising the upper income limit to 90 per cent will be welcomed and people can probably live with the minimum of 65 per cent.

Unfortunately, the Government has chosen to ignore the pension industry and consumers. We delivered a 10,000-signature petition to the Treasury only last week. This development will send a negative message out to potential and existing pension investors alike.

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