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Coffee House

It’s time for the state to trust adults with their own money

20 March 2014

3:54 PM

20 March 2014

3:54 PM

The changes that George Osborne announced to pensions yesterday were so big that there was always going to be a backlash. Sure enough, the IFS and various others have today voiced concerns about the scheme. The essential complaint is that if you let people take charge of their own pension pots, they might spend their money too quickly.

This is an argument that George Osborne should relish taking on. Trusting people with their own money is a fundamentally Tory idea. It is also slightly absurd to suggest that people who have been diligent enough to build up a pension pot over their working life are suddenly going to become spendthrifts in retirement.

If, as I suspect we are, we’re entering an era of low interest rates — I’ll be very surprised if we see interest rates of 5 per cent this decade — then annuities simply aren’t going to give people the returns they need. So it’s sensible to allow people to diversify, to take more control of their own finances. It’s time for the state to trust adults with their own money. ​

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