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Take control with flexible access

Flexible access lets you dip into your pension savings, while the rest stays invested in your plan. This option is also referred to as income drawdown.

 Video transcript

At the moment, from age 55, you can enjoy flexible access to your pension savings. This is increasing to age 57 from the 6th of April 2028.

You can set up a regular income or simply take some cash whenever you need it. The rest of your money will stay invested in your plan and aim to grow.

Usually, the first 25% of any money you take out of your plan will be paid tax free.

You can choose to take all your tax-free cash in one go or spread it out over a series of smaller payments.

When you die, any savings you have left can be passed on to your loved ones.

Things to watch out for:

With flexible access, there's a risk your money could run out earlier than you'd like, so you'll need to manage your income carefully.

If at any time you need more certainty you can always choose to buy a regular, secure income that'll be paid for the rest of your life.

To find out more about your retirement options, talk to your financial adviser, or visit

 What can I do with flexible access?

  • Take the income you need, when you need it
    You can take cash withdrawals, set up regular income payments and make changes as often as you need to.
  • Take tax-free cash
    You can usually take up to a quarter of the value of your pension savings tax-free. This can be paid in one lump sum or spread out over a series of smaller cash payments. If you were entitled to more than a quarter of the value tax-free at 6 April 2006 you can keep this entitlement, but only if you take all your pension savings at the same time.
  • Give your savings more opportunity to grow
    Whatever you leave in your plan will stay invested, so while this means your savings can continue to grow, it also means they can fall in value - so you could end up with less money to live on.
  • Change your mind whenever you like
    If your needs change, you can use the savings you have left to buy a secure income – this will pay you a guaranteed, regular income for the rest of your life.

 Where can I invest when I’m flexibly accessing my pension savings?

Investment pathways have been introduced by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to help improve retirement outcomes for customers who want to flexibly access their pension savings.

We offer a choice of four pathways, based on what you intend to do with your pension savings over the next five years. Each investment pathway invests in a mix of funds and asset classes and aims to meet different retirement needs, as shown in the table below.

Option 1: I have no plans to touch my money in the next 5 years
Investment pathway 1: aims to deliver growth above inflation for a customer who has no short-term plans to access their savings.
Option 2: I plan to use my money to set up a guaranteed income (annuity) within the next 5 years
Investment pathway 2: aims to maintain annuity buying power for a customer looking to buy an annuity in the short term.
Option 3: I plan to start taking my money as a long-term income within the next 5 years
Investment pathway 3: aims to deliver growth above inflation to support sustainable income withdrawal.
Option 4: I plan to take out all my money within the next 5 years
Investment pathway 4: aims to offer the potential for above inflation growth while supporting short term withdrawal needs.

You should remember that investment returns are never guaranteed. So while there’s a chance your savings could grow, their value can also go down. This means you could get back less than you started with.

You can find out more information about each of the investment pathways, in our investment factsheets:

Of course, you don’t have to choose an investment pathway. We have a wide range of investment options for you to choose from.

Some investment options carry an extra charge. So if you decide to choose your own investments, or need help deciding on a suitable option, it's a good idea to speak to a financial adviser.

If you don’t have an adviser, there are a number of directories you can use to search for financial advisers in your area, according to their specialisms:

Advisers may charge for their services – though they should agree any fees with you upfront.

 What do I need to watch out for?

  • Your savings are exposed to investment risk
    If you choose to leave some of your savings in your plan, they’ll remain invested. While this means your savings can continue to grow, it also means they can fall in value - so you could end up with less money to live on.
  • Your savings aren’t guaranteed to last forever
    Unlike a secure income, your savings aren't guaranteed to last the rest of your life. As your savings stay invested, there's a risk your money could run out if your investments perform poorly, if you take too much money out of your plan or if you live longer than expected.
  • You’ll need to actively manage your plan
    To help make sure your savings last for as long as you need them, you’ll need to regularly review the income you’re taking along with how your investments are performing.
  • Saving into other pension plans could be restricted
    When you start taking an income from a flexible access plan, if it's more than the 25% tax-free amount, the government puts a limit on how much you (and your employer) can save into this or any other defined contribution pension plans without a tax charge. This is called the money purchase annual allowance – and it’s currently set at £4,000 for the 2022/23 tax year.
  • Your entitlement to state benefits could be affected
    The amount of income and/or tax-free cash you take from your pension savings could affect your entitlement to means-tested state benefits, this includes things such as housing benefits and council tax reductions.

 What happens when I die?

If you have money left in your plan when you die, it can be passed on to your loved ones – usually free of inheritance tax. Tax treatment depends on the individual circumstances of the person receiving the payment(s).

  • If you die before age 75, your pension savings can be paid to your loved ones how they like, income tax-free.
  • If you die aged 75 or older, your pension savings can be paid to your loved ones how they like, subject to income tax.

 Remember - you can shop around

When you come to access your pension savings, you’re free to shop around. That means you don’t need to stay with the pension provider you’ve been saving with.

 How does this income option compare?

Your options Secure income Flexible access Take cash
Can I arrange to take a regular income? Yes Yes No
Is my income guaranteed for the rest of my life? Yes No No
Can I change how much money I receive? No Yes Yes
Could my money run out later in retirement? No Yes Yes
Can I do something different with my savings in later years? No Yes Yes
Can I take some tax-free cash? Usually up to 25% of your pension savings* Usually up to 25% of your pension savings* Usually up to 25% of your pension savings*
Find out more

Secure income


Take cash

 What other options do I have?

Take a look at the other options you have available.

Keep us up-to-date

Keep us up-to-date with any changes that could affect your retirement plans.

If you decide to change your retirement age, let us know. If you're invested in a Lifestyle Strategy, we'll make sure your money is invested in the right part of the strategy.

Did you know?

If you die before you take any or all of your pension savings, your savings could be paid to one or more beneficiaries of your choice. If you've not chosen beneficiaries or would like to change your beneficiary details you can complete the form online or download and print a paper form.

Know your limits

The government has set limits to do with pension contributions and taking your pension savings.

Find out more


Tax rules depend on individual circumstances and could change.

Contact us

Email us

0370 850 1991