Will you be able to sell your annuity?

Alexander Newton

Pensions minister Steve Webb has set out plans to allow pensioners who have already bought an annuity to sell the product in return for cash.

Webb’s proposals are part of his plans to allow those who have already purchased an annuity to have access to the type of flexibility which will be enjoyed by those retiring after April 2015, when the pension reforms outlined in last year’s Budget come into force.

In October 2014 the pensions minister said he would like to ‘unwind’ annuities bought before the Budget.

At the time Webb said this was just his personal idea and not a government policy.

While the plans are still not government policy and will not be in place by April or before the general election in May, Webb said details were being drawn up by the Department for Work and Pensions and that he was seeking cross-party agreement that the proposals would be implemented by the next government.

Under the plans a pensioner could sell their existing annuity, probably to an insurance company or pension fund. The annuity would continue to pay out income to the new holder until the death of the original policy owner. Webb hopes details of the proposals will be published before the election.

He said the proposals would require changes to laws governing the insurance industry and that the Treasury would need to decide how the sale of annuities would be taxed.

He told The Daily Telegraph he had support for the plans from retirees around the country and that several pension providers have ‘expressed considerable interest and enthusiasm’ for the idea.

‘I want to see people trusted with their own money wherever possible,’ he told the paper. ‘I have already heard from people around the country who would like to see this change made.

‘I want to see if we can get these [Budget] freedoms extended to those who are receiving an annuity but who might prefer a cash lump sum. No-one would be obliged to do so, but for those who would prefer up-front capital to regular income, I can see no reason why this should not be an option.’