Citizens Advice Hartlepool is urging people to make sure their finances are fit for the future before making any big decisions.
This Friday is Pension Awareness Day and the charity is encouraging people approaching retirement or considering accessing their pension to get to know their options and the risks by speaking to a Pension Wise guidance specialist.
Since the launch of new pension freedoms in 2015, people have more options to take their pension savings in a way that best suits their individual needs, for example by drawing money out of their pension early.
Accessing your pension money early can have benefits but also brings a number of risks which many people aren’t aware of.
Pension Wise offers anyone over 50 years of age free specialist guidance on defined contribution pensions, as well as providing pointers about the warning signs of scams and knowing how to avoid them.
Citizens Advice has been providing Pension Wise appointments in Hartlepool since April 2015. In that time the Pension Wise service as a whole nationwide has:
• Provided more 154,000 free pension guidance sessions;
• Had more than 5.3million website visits;
• Seen the ‘take your whole pension in one go’ page become the most popular on its website, reflecting a trend identified by the Financial Conduct Authority as ‘the new norm’.
The authority highlight that more than a million pension pots have been accessed early since the pension freedoms came into force.
It is now twice as popular as using the whole pot to purchase a guaranteed income in retirement- known as an annuity.
Citizens Advice Hartlepool manager Joe Michna said :”Many people are making huge decisions about their retirement finances without talking through their options.
“Drawing money from your pension could leave you without a proper income once you retire or with an unexpected tax bill. It can also leave you open to scams. That’s why it’s important to speak about your pension with someone you can trust before making your choice.
“At Citizens Advice Hartlepool, we want to make sure no-one is alone in making important decisions. So this Pension Awareness Day, book your Pension Wise appointment on-line or by calling 0800 138 3944 “
Appointments are available to anyone who is are over 50, with a defined contribution pension.