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Freedom & choice

Flexible benefits were introduced by the Government from 6 April 2015 to allow members of defined contribution schemes, who are over age 55, more freedom on how they take money from their pension pot.

The LGPS is not a defined contribution pension scheme (it is a defined benefit scheme) and as such, it is not directly affected by these changes.

However, if you stop paying into the LGPS and you have three or more months' membership, then unless you are retiring with immediate effect due to redundancy, business efficiency or ill health, you will have the right to transfer your LGPS pension to a defined contribution scheme providing flexible benefits.

Please note that you will be required by law to take independent financial advice if the value of your pension benefits in the LGPS (excluding AVCs) is more than £30,000. You are not required to take independent financial advice if the value of your benefits is less than £30,000, however, transferring your pension rights is not always an easy decision to make and seeking the help of an independent financial adviser before you make a decision to transfer could help you in making an appropriate decision.

There are four main options for members who are in a defined contribution scheme which provides flexible benefits, including:

  • to purchase an annuity (yearly pension) or scheme pension, if offered
  • taking a number of cash sums at different stages
  • taking the entire pot as cash in one go
  • flexi-access drawdown

For more information, please see the links below:

Freedom and choice - Q&A for members

How your LGPS pension is calculated

Freedom and choice - transferring to a scheme with flexible benefits

Transferring out - the process

Protect your pension from scams

Choosing an independent financial advisor

Pension wise
Pension wise

Pensions Advisory Service
Pensions Advisory Service

Action Fraud This link opens in a new browser window
Action Fraud

WARNING

The Pensions Regulator has issued a warning to consumers about pension schemes that claim to give access to loans or allow a release of tax-free cash before the age of 55. This is referred to as 'Pension Liberation Fraud' and is classed as an unauthorised withdrawal by HMRC, who charges a tax penalty of at least 55% of such withdrawals from your pension savings. Further details about pension scams can be found on The Pension Regulator's website:

http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/individuals/dangers-of-pension-scams.aspx

A booklet about protecting your pension savings from scams and details of who to contact if you think you may be the victim of a scam is also available:

http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/docs/pension-scams-booklet-members.pdf

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