Pensions for Children

I am sure we would all like to think that we have done all we can to contribute to the financial futures of our children and a child’s retirement is probably the furthest thing from most parents’ minds, but starting pensions early can have a dramatic effect.

Whilst most people only begin to save for retirement once they have started working, starting to build a pension pot at birth, or soon thereafter, dramatically increases the size of the potential pension fund, and therefore, the potential income in retirement.

By using pension arrangements, tax relief is available at source and turns £80 saved into £100 instantly. Although the term required to do this is potentially a long one - your children would need to reach age 55 to be able to benefit from the funds - the benefits could be enormous.

Thanks to the effects of compound interest, tax relief on contributions and tax-efficient growth, the potential exists to provide your child with a pension pot of life changing proportions. The earlier you are able to start, the more tangible the effect.

You are able to contribute a maximum of £2,880 into a personal pension for a child each tax year, which will be boosted by a further £720 in tax relief, raising the amount invested to £3,600. The investments then grow free from income and capital gains taxes.

Assuming investment growth of 6% per annum (after charges), you would need to make this contribution for just the first 18 years of the child's life to generate a £1.8m pension pot at age 65. Your actual outlay over that period would total £51,840, with £12,960 added in tax relief. (Source: Aviva)

After taking inflation into account (at an assumed 2.5% per annum), a £1.8m pension pot would be worth about £356,000 in today's terms – enough to buy an index-linked annuity of about £15,500 a year. (Source: Aviva)

So, what would be the impact of a delay? If, instead of starting the pension at birth, your child starts contributing once he or she starts work, saving the same £3,600 every year from the age of 25 to 65, using the same assumptions as above, they would end up with a pension pot worth only £590,600 before taking inflation into account, rather than £1.8m, despite them saving for 40 years as opposed to 18.

Those early contributions could pretty much relieve your children of the sort of retirement worries that are a concern to many people today. Pensions do not have to be of exclusive interest to those later in life; you can have one from birth if you are fortunate enough to have parents or grandparents who set one up.

Until relatively recently, many employees could often count on generous final salary pensions, as well as grant supported university education. Today's children are increasingly more likely to carry the burden of further education debts and access to far less beneficial defined contribution workplace pensions to fund their retirement.

As people are generally living longer, an adequate retirement income becomes even more important. As a result of repaying student loans and struggling to get a foothold in today's much more expensive property ladder, it may be far more difficult to make pension contributions in future, so would a pension started at birth by far-sighted relatives help to redress the balance?

Investment values can fall as well as rise and you may get back less than you invest.
Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.

Nathan Glaister
Financial Planning Consultant

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