Financial News

  • 17 April 2014, 7:29

Pensioners To Get Government Death Estimates

People approaching retirement will be given an estimate of when they might die, ministers have revealed.

A measure of life expectancy, linked to factors such as smoking, eating habits or socioeconomic background, will be part of Government backed "guidance" to help pensioners plan how much to spend and save.

Steve Webb, the pensions minister, told Sky News people needed to have a sense of how long they might live to help make such financial decisions.

Many people underestimated the figure, he added, expecting to die earlier than was likely.

"If you are thinking about this, what do you do? For best guidance you probably think about how long your grandparents lived. But that is two generations out of date," he said.

So he is asking pension providers to give people an estimate as part of guidance that will be rolled out next April.

The advice is linked to major pension reforms, announced in the Budget, which will allow people to draw down their money at any time, instead of seeing it tied up in annuities.

That led to warnings that people might be reckless, blowing their pension pots on expensive items instead of saving sensibly to last them throughout retirement.

Mr Webb hit back at the time, saying he was "relaxed" if people wanted to buy Italian Lamborghini sports cars because that was their "choice".

But the Government also admitted in the policy consultation paper that "consumers need to be able to make informed decisions".

It is therefore guaranteeing "free, impartial face-to-face guidance" for individuals reaching retirement through a new "duty" on pension providers to deliver the advice.

Mr Webb said the type of questions that would be covered included asking people about their household - whether they have a spouse, what might happen if they died, if they had thought about residential care and also considering debts and possible income generation.

But life expectancy also had to be part of that consultation.

Mr Webb said insurance companies already had some of the mechanisms to calculate that using information such as people's postcodes, lifestyle choices like smoking and hereditary factors.

"It is an average," added Mr Webb. "But for most people it will probably be longer than they think."

The hope is that a figure might then help them to consider saving a little extra.

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