Page last updated at 10:25 GMT, Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Pension access 'may help savings'

Elderly couple
Schemes have encouraged people to save more for their retirement

Early access to pensions in times of need would increase the number of people in the UK saving for their retirement, a report says.

The Pensions Policy Institute looked into limited opportunities for savers to dip into their pension pot if they hit problems or when buying a home.

It said that the number of pension savers would go up by a third by 2050 as a result of such a plan.

At present, savers cannot access pension savings before retirement.

The PPI warned that, under such a plan, contributions would need to increase in some cases.

It also said there should be restrictions on how much people could take out early, or strict plans for them to repay it.

If this was not kept under control, the value of the pension pot could have fallen by the time these people reached retirement. It estimated pension funds could drop in value by an average of 7%.

Chris Curry, the institute's research director, pointed to experience of similar schemes in the US which suggested the number of savers rose even though only 20% made use of early access.

"There are many different possible ways of allowing early access to savings within pension funds, and some are already in use internationally," he said.

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