Advice Column: Pensionwise

Thursday 2nd August 2018

As part of the Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo weekly advice column this week we focus on pension freedoms.

 I’ve heard that I can now get full access to my pension pot when I turn 55. How do I work out what I should do with my pension savings?

The April 2015 pension reforms gave people the freedom to access their defined contribution pension how and when they want. You can buy an annuity, or take your pension out in one go, or withdraw it bit by bit and leave some of it invested. Planning for your retirement can be complicated so it’s important to get guidance on your options.

The Pension Wise service provides free guidance online, over the phone with The Pensions Advisory Service, or face to face with Citizens Advice. The face to face appointments are pre-booked 45-60 minute sessions tailored to your individual circumstances. Guidance is impartial, meaning that they will not recommend products or services, but they will discuss your options and help you consider the impact.

To get the most out of Pension Wise guidance, preparation is key:

  1. First, work out the value of your pension pots. You can look at your most recent statement, or contact your provider.
  2. Check if there are any restrictions on your pension, such as penalties for taking it early.
  3. Get a state pension forecast – you can find out how to do this from
  4. Gather information on any benefits you receive as any pension decision you make could affect these.
  5. Work out your likely living expenses, including the cost of essentials like housing and utilities, and leisure activities. This should help you come up with a rough budget, which you can compare to your potential pension income.

Ensure that you have this information available for your Pension Wise appointment. Your guidance specialist will help you think through your circumstances, and discuss the options available to you.

 For more information and advice go to or telephone the Pension Wise team on 0800 138 8292.

 Look out for our column next week when we focus on Universal Credit.

 The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo accept no liability for the information published. Citizens Advice Exeter is unable to respond to individual requests for advice through these columns. Copyright Citizens Advice. For the most up-to-date information, please visit