About 7 years ago I was employed by a small company. They set up a pension fund for me which I contributed to while I was employed there. When I eventually left the company to study, I found out that the employer had stopped paying contributions for the last 6 months or so (this is a separate issue, but is hardly surprising considering they were in dire financial straits at that point). The value of the pension is currently around £4000. I'm unlikely to contribute to it again as I've just joined another company with their own pension scheme.

If possible, I'd rather get ahold of some of the value of that pension and use it to pay off debts I accrued while studying for my degree, rather than sitting on it for another 36 years before cashing it in. Even if it's a fraction of the amount, it would be more use to me now than way down the line.

Is there any way I can make better use of this low value pension fund?

  • How did you get that figure of 36 years? You may be able to access some of the money from age 55 but before that the tax penalty is severe. – fairflow May 6 '14 at 15:19
  • In 36 years I will be 65. – Jack May 7 '14 at 9:18
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    Unless your pension fund is a "defined benefits" fund (e.g. gives a pension based on final salary) it is likely that you can transfer to a low-cost SIPP as suggested by @AakashM in his solution (though the provider I'm transferring my pension to is BestInvest and they have a minimum value of £10,000 for transfers); and in that case you may be able to take the full amount under "trivial commutation" rules at age 55, not 65, which means only another 26 years' wait :-). But only 25% would be tax-free under current rules. IANAIFA of course. (I am not an independent financial advisor). – fairflow May 7 '14 at 14:54
  • just noticed the missing payments you need to speak to the pension regulator they take companies missing payments very seriously thepensionsregulator.gov.uk – Pepone Dec 23 '14 at 0:09

If possible, I'd rather get ahold of some of the value of that pension

It's not (currently) possible. Although there has recently been a pretty big shake-up in the world of UK pensions, the fundamental principle that money put into a pension is inaccessible until retirement still holds. If anyone Advised you, they should have made this extremely clear; if there was no Advice, there would have been prominent text to this effect somewhere in the written materials you were given (the Key Facts Illustration or similar).

In your position (NB this is not Advice, and I am not a financial adviser), I would transfer that pension to a low-cost SIPP, using a provider offering free transfers, rather than allowing it to possibly be marked 'dormant' and the funds invested in a poor-value tied fund. Then at least you could choose where it was invested. Check for any guaranteed benefits you would lose by transferring out.

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    Welcome to Money.SE. A big thanks to your handling a UK question. We are a worldwide group, and I'm hoping to see more non-US visitors to truly help anyone who visits. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Apr 8 '14 at 14:03
  • Thanks for your help. I guess the bold text in your answer is what I really needed to know. – Jack Apr 8 '14 at 23:37

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