Only 17% of annuity holders would consider selling for cash

Nest egg

Fewer than one in five annuity holders would consider selling their annuity for cash if the government introduces rules allowing them to do so.

George Osborne's March 2015 Budget included plans for a consultation looking at allowing people to sell their existing annuities on a secondary market for a lump sum.

However, doubts remain over just how much people could get for their annuities, and whether it would be enough even to justify the sale.

Research from Portal Financial found in March that people seriously over-estimated how much value they could extract by selling their annuity - with many expecting to receive 90% of its value when the realistic figure is more like 60 or 70%.

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Severely disappointed

Now, a survey of 1,800 UK annuity holders by YouGov for broker Tilney Bestinvest has found that 17% would consider selling their annuity for a cash lump sum. One third said they would not consider selling, while 50% said they didn't know.

David Smith, financial planning director at Tilney Bestinvest, says: "The practicalities of implementing the policy are far from straightforward. Those looking to receive their original annuity investment minus what they have already taken from their annuity will likely be severely disappointed for several reasons.

"It has been announced that insurance companies who currently provide annuities will not be able to enter the market, and therefore the function of selling annuities will be carried out by third-party brokers. The cost, coupled with the fees involved in medical underwriting which will be required... means that the overall fees for selling an annuity are likely to be substantial."

He adds that any fees would come in addition to any tax which would need to be paid when receiving the cash, payable at the taxpayer's highest rate.

"As it is more likely that those with smaller annuity pots will be the ones most tempted into selling them due to the low levels of income received, the combination of these costs will have a considerable impact, perhaps even prohibiting the sale."

This article was written for our sister website Money Observer

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