Chancellor’s changes may herald new era of entrepreneurship according to expert

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: George Osborne plans to give more people access to their pension pots George Osborne plans to give more people access to their pension pots

Moves by Chancellor George Osborne to give people more access to their pension pots could herald a new era of entrepreneurism, according to wealth-management specialist.

John Metcalf, investment director at Skipton Building Society subsidiary, wealth management company Pearson Jones, said the removal of many restrictions on how savers could access pension cash could boost the economy by creating more business entrepreneurs with access to funds previously unavailable due to legal restrictions.

He said: “The Budget’s radical changes to pensions potentially frees up millions of pounds which is likely to be used in many different ways. Wealth managers need to be ready to advise because, as well as the greater freedom to access and ability to use these pension funds differently, the new rules also create greater risks through misunderstanding the implications.”

Mr Metcalf also said that the penal tax charge for handing down pension funds to the next generation may soon be reduced or even taken away.

He said: “There is a high proportion of well-educated, unemployed young people who could potentially benefit from grandparents or parents able to make investments by using some of their pension funds to back start-up enterprises and help cut joblessness among young people which has been at a record high.

“This could prove attractive to both parties, especially as many people are still wary of the banks, which are generally hesitant of business start-ups as high risk, after continuing mis-selling scandals. Private equity funding is for more established enterprises and crowd-funding does not yet have a sufficient awareness and pedigree for what could become a mass market.”

Following the Budget, the maximum which can be taken from existing funds through income drawdown has increased from 120 per cent to 150 per cent of the Government Actuaries rate. While savers will still be able to access only 25 per cent of their pension fund tax-free, there is a reduction, from £20,000 to £12,000, in the minimum income requirement, which must be in place to take ‘flexible drawdown’ with hints that it may be removed next year.

Mr Metcalf, who leads a 25-strong team of investment specialists, added: “George Osborne’s changes will hopefully alter society’s attitude to pensions, which had become less attractive in recent years through deemed forced annuity purchase at 75 and falls in annuity rates, by giving far greater flexibility over how funds can be accessed and used.

“These changes will alter people’s investment strategies and give them a chance to use their imagination, creating a range of alternative investment opportunities.”

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