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Tax-free cash clouds pension vision

The glaring absence of tax-free cash in the Government’s vision for a pension savings scheme could prove the saving grace for advisers or signal the Government’s intent to scrap tax-free cash altogether.

Hargreaves Lansdown head of pensions research Tom McPhail says it would be difficult for a savings scheme to be attractive if the private sector can trump it with tax-free cash.

The omission of tax-free cash, or pension commencement lump sums, has brought concern that the Government could be looking to axe tax-free cash.

McPhail says: “For the short term, I think tax-free cash is safe but in the long term I am not so sure.”

Suffolk Life sales and marketing director John Moret says the national personal accounts scheme outlined in the White Paper already gives advisers little opportunity.

He says that advisers could struggle to sell pensions if tax-free cash is stripped away, as this provides one of the few incentives for people to lock their money in a pension.

Moret says: “If tax relief is reduced or disappears, the attraction of pensions will also reduce, making the whole picture for advice very uncertain.”

Scottish Life head of pensions strategy Steve Bee says the issue of tax-free cash has appeared more frequently on the political agenda and in the House of Commons.

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