An introduction to UK pension systems—private pensions
Produced in partnership with John Hayward, Pensions Author, and Wyn Derbyshire of Gunnercooke LLP
An introduction to UK pension systems—private pensions

The following Private Client guidance note Produced in partnership with John Hayward, Pensions Author, and Wyn Derbyshire of Gunnercooke LLP provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • An introduction to UK pension systems—private pensions
  • Government policy
  • Types of pension schemes
  • Who can establish a pension scheme?
  • Occupational pension schemes
  • Personal pension schemes—introduction
  • Unfunded pension schemes

Government policy

For many years as part of government policy the establishment in the UK of private pensions in addition to state pensions has been encouraged. This commenced with occupational pension schemes established by employers for their employees and in more recent years with personal pensions established for individuals. The provision of private pensions has most notably been encouraged by the granting of tax reliefs to those establishing pension schemes and to their members in relation to contributions, pension fund income and pension benefits.

It should be noted that neither the provision of private pensions in the UK nor the membership of a pension scheme has been compulsory until very recently and even now there are exceptions (see ‘stakeholder pension schemes and the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST)’ below).

The general administration of private pension schemes is the responsibility of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) with the Pensions Regulator responsible for ensuring schemes are run in a proper manner as required by law. The administration of tax reliefs granted to pension schemes is the responsibility of HMRC. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), formerly the Financial Services Authority, is responsible in particular for certain aspects of personal pension schemes, eg investments and financial advice.

Types of pension schemes

In the UK there are broadly two types of pension schemes—occupational