April 2024 sees a welcome and significant increase in the State Pension.
Due to a mechanism known as the Triple Lock, the State Pension will rise by the higher of three measures; inflation as at September’s Consumer Price Index, average wage increases across the UK, or a minimum of 2.5%. Due to the high inflation seen over the last year, Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, confirmed in the Autumn Statement that the State Pension will increase by 8.5% from April 2024.
This increase translates into a significant change in the weekly pension amount. For those receiving the full, new flat-rate State Pension, the weekly amount will rise from £203.85 a week to £221.20. For those on the full, old basic State Pension, the weekly figure will rise from £156.20 to £169.50.
Qualifying for the State Pension
The State Pension is a recurring benefit paid out every four weeks by the government.
The level of State Pension that you receive is based on two factors; the number of years you’ve paid or been credited with NICs, and when you start claiming your State Pension.
The qualifying age for most people is currently 66. However, it is gradually rising to age 67 for anyone born after 6th April 1960 and to age 68 if you were born after 6th April 1977.
To check your personal NIC record and State Pension forecast you can create an online “Government Gateway” account at Gov.UK. From here you can check:
what you’ve paid, up to the start of the current tax year
any National Insurance credits you’ve received
if gaps in contributions or credits mean some years do not count towards your State Pension (they are not ‘qualifying years’)
if you can pay voluntary contributions to fill any gaps and how much this will cost
Not yet in retirement?
If you are approaching State Pension age, you have a number of options that could potentially give you a higher pension.
No later than two months before you reach State Pension age, you should receive a letter and booklet from the Department of Work and Pensions explaining how to claim. If you want your State Pension to begin, you need to submit a State Pension Claim Form (BR1) to the Pension Service. If you have deferred your State Pension for a year or less, you can apply online. You can find out more by going to www.gov.uk/deferring-state-pension/how-to-claim-a-deferred-state-pension.
Some people choose not to claim their State Pension when it becomes available. This could be for a variety of reasons; they may still be employed and have no need to take their State Pension yet, or they may receive income from a private or company pension. Whatever you decide to do, you should ensure that you understand both the risks and benefits of not drawing your pension.
The longer you delay, the more you'll receive
Deferring your State Pension could increase the payments you get when you do start to claim it.
For those who reached State Pension age on or after 6th April 2016:
If you delay taking your State Pension for at least nine weeks your State Pension will increase by 1% for every nine weeks’ delay - this works out at just under 5.8% for every full year that you put off claiming.
The amount of extra State Pension you receive will depend on when you reached State pension age.
It should be noted that there is no option to take a lump-sum payment and in some cases the extra payments could be liable for tax.
For those who reached State Pension age before 6th April 2016:
If you delayed taking your State Pension for at least five weeks, your State Pension will increase by 1% for every five weeks’ delay - this works out at roughly 10.4% for every full year you put off claiming. The extra income is taxable and will usually increase each year in line with inflation.
Alternatively, rather than take the extra amount as additional income, if you put off claiming your State Pension for at least 12 months in a row, you can choose to take a lump sum payment instead. This will include interest of 2% above the Bank of England base rate. The lump sum is taxable at the same rate as your other income (NB - this isn’t the case if you reached state pension age after 6th April 2016).
If you delay claiming your State Pension, or stop receiving it for a while, you won’t pay tax on it during the time you’re not getting it. The tax you pay when you start receiving the State Pension will depend on how the money is paid to you.
Deferring may affect how much you can receive in benefits
You should think carefully before deferring if you are receiving benefits, such as Carer’s Allowance, Income Support or Widow’s Allowance, as you can’t build up extra State Pension during any period that you receive these benefits. For a full list of the benefits that may be impacted by extra State Pension, please the gov.uk/ website.
Understanding your pension options is vital to planning for a comfortable retirement. Seek advice if you are uncertain about any aspect of your retirement planning.
Please note: This article is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.
The content of this article was accurate at the time of writing. Whilst information is considered to be true and correct at the date of publication, changes in circumstances, regulation, and legislation after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of the article.