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More than 230,000 cash in on new pension freedoms as £4.3bn of funds are accessed

By Vicky Shaw

More than 230,000 people have taken up the new pension freedoms in their first year of coming into force.

Figures from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) show that 232,000 people accessed a total of £4.3bn from their pension pots after the launch of the pension freedoms on April 6, 2015. The freedoms mean that people aged 55 and over can take their pension pot how they wish, subject to tax, rather than being required to buy a guaranteed retirement income.

Annuities have been controversial due to plunging rates and concerns that people were not shopping around for the best deals.

But they do act as a guarantee for pensioners that they will not out-live their savings. People can still buy an annuity under the new freedoms if they want to.

Pension Wise, the Government's free pensions guidance service to help people use the freedoms, has had more than 2.2 million visits to the website, with nearly 55,000 appointments made so far.

Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Harriett Baldwin, said the figures show thousands of people have been given "access and responsibility over their hard-earned savings".

Richard Parkin, head of pensions at Fidelity International, said: "Our experience also demonstrates that taking retirement savings as cash has been a popular choice over the first year of the pension freedoms."

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