There are two main types of workplace pension:
- Defined Benefit (DB) schemes. These are also known as Final Salary schemes.
- Defined Contribution (DS) schemes. These are also known as Money Purchase schemes.
Workplace pensions run in conjunction with any private and/or state pension you may have.
Defined Benefits (DB) schemes offer the benefit of a guaranteed income for the rest of your life but no choice on how your pension is invested. Defined Contribution (DC) schemes offer no guaranteed pay-out but more flexibility, and are cheaper for employers to run than DB schemes.
DB schemes have effectively been phased out and replaced by DC schemes.
Many Defined Benefit schemes are still running, but you can’t get on one any more; not since 2012, when auto-enrolment began for Defined Contribution pensions. If you’ve signed up somewhere to work since, you will have been automatically enrolled onto a Defined Contribution pension scheme.
Here’s a summary of each of the two major types of workplace pension scheme works:
BENEFIT SCHEME(also known as
CONTRIBUTION SCHEME(also known as
|ADVANTAGE||Employer takes the risk
The employer is responsible for providing the guaranteed pension sum (your “Pension Pot”) and also for making the investment choices.
Most employees with Defined Benefit schemes are protected by the UK Pension Protection Fund: “the PPF was set up in April 2005 to protect you if your employer goes bust and its pension scheme can no longer afford to pay your promised pension.” (PPF)
Five categories of compensation apply.
100% compensation will be paid if you were already retired when your scheme went bust. 90% compensation will be paid if you retired early, or had yet to retire when your scheme went bust. Deferral, caps and annual price rises apply variously.
The PPF has this year changed its insolvency modelling from Dun and Bradstreet to Experian.
|Cheaper to run for employers
Contribution-based schemes are cheaper for employers to run.
Defined benefit schemes involve high administration costs in assessing individual pay-outs. A further drain on cost for pension chiefs of benefit schemes is that people are generally living longer, which makes it more expensive to pay employees for a lifetime.
Employee chooses investments
Some choice is available to employees of where their pension is invested. A good thing or a bad thing? Depends on how you look at it.
|ANNUAL PRICE INCREASE?||Index-linked
DB schemes enjoy a compulsory increase each year.How much your DB pension goes up each year depends on what money was put down by you when:§ For money laid down after 6 April 1997, there is an annual increase of 5%, or of CPI — whichever is lower.
As with Defined Benefit schemes, DC schemes enjoy a mandatory hike in value each year.How much your DC pension goes up each year depends on what money was put down by you when.It is important to note that:”There is no legal requirement for increases to be paid on:
Otherwise, the situation is similar to that for DB schemes in that an annual price hike in line with CPI/ alternative fixed rate applies to different bands of your pension pot depending on when it was invested. In the case of DC scheme annual price hikes, what is also taken into account is whether the scheme is trust or contract-managed.
|WHO DECIDES WHERE THE MONEY IS INVESTED?||The employer (or rather the pension professionals advising the employer). All contributions are invested as part of a collective pool.||With some schemes, the employee is given some choice as to where to invest the money. Often there is a default fund which employees can opt for if they are not adventurous.|
|ENTITLEMENT SUM PAID
|The employee can take 25% tax-free of total entitlement as a lump sum.
A fixed sum is then paid for life every month.
|As with DB schemes, the employee can take 25% tax-free of total entitlement as a lump sum.
With a DS scheme, you can take 100% of the pot in one go,or a proportion, in which case a decision then needs to be made about the rest of your pension pot:
A common choice is to buy an annuity which converts into a lifelong fixed income. Buying an annuity was compulsory until 6 April 2015.
Or you can opt for income drawdown. With this option, the asset base of your pension pot (i.e. the stocks and shares investments) is left on the stock market and you draw down an on-going income from it.
|CALCULATION OF YOUR ENTITLEMENT||The calculation of your pension pot sum usually depends on three factors:
||The calculation of your pension pot sum usually depends on five factors:
|EARLY RETIREMENT?||Can be taken aged 55+.||Can be taken aged 55+.|
|WHAT TYPES OF SCHEME EXIST?||Defined Benefit schemes are divided by how they use your salary to calculate your entitlement: “Final Salary” vs. “Career-Average Revalued Earnings.” (CARE).
http://www.thisismoney.co.uk says: “Career-average schemes tend to favour workers who don’t have much career growth and who don’t get very high annual salary increases.” People whose salary goes up fast miss out, because the annual price-hike calculation may not be as high as their own rise in salary.
|Defined Contribution schemes are divided by who looks after the money: “Trust-based” vs. “Contract-based”:
|WHO MAKES THE CONTRIBUTIONS?||An agreed percentage is taken out of your salary before you are paid. Your employer makes a contribution, and the Government gives you tax relief on your contribution.||An agreed percentage is taken out of your salary before you are paid. You can adjust this percentage as you go. Your employer makes a contribution, and the Government gives you tax relief on your contribution.|
|NEWS||In March 2016 the Pensions and Lifetimes Savings Association launched the DB Taskforce with a mandate to review the challenges currently facing DB pension schemes and report to the Government.||No such taskforce is envisaged for DC pensions. But the rule change of April 2015 that widened the way employees can access their Pension Pot continues to be influencing the market.|
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