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Pensions almost have a language of their own. Here we explain some of the more common terms.

Active member

An employee who is currently paying into and building up benefits in their employer's pension scheme.

Actuary

A professional adviser who calculates financial risks, the statistical likelihood of these risks occurring and the impact they may have. The actuary carries out regular valuations of the scheme to see how it’s performing and whether there is enough money being paid in (assets) to cover the cost of paying pensions out (liabilities).

Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs)

AVCs are additional payments you can make to increase your overall retirement savings. You choose where to invest your money from a range of funds. AVCs get tax relief in the same way as your normal scheme contributions (subject to limits).

Annual Allowance (AA)

This is the maximum amount you can save into all of your pension arrangements combined each tax year before tax is charged on any excess. The Annual Allowance is currently £60,000.

However, a lower ‘Tapered Annual Allowance’ applies to high-earning pension savers and may affect anyone with a taxable income of more than £200,000.

A lower allowance of £10,000 may also apply if you’ve taken money out of your pension pot. This is known as the ‘Money Purchase Annual Allowance’. Find out more about the Annual Allowance.

Beneficiary

A person or good cause who you would like to receive benefits, in the form of a scheme pension or lump sum, if you die. You can name any people or organisations to receive the lump sum if you die in service.

Benefits

Any payments you receive from your pension, including tax-free lump sums and pensions.

Benefit statement

A statement or estimate showing expected benefits from the scheme.

Civil partner

A person who has entered into a civil partnership with his or her same-sex partner.

Contributions

The money you pay into your pension scheme or into your AVCs.

Deferred member

A person who is no longer an active member, but has benefits in the scheme they haven’t claimed yet.

Defined Benefit (DB) scheme

This type of scheme offers a guaranteed pension for life for its members. You and your employer contribute to your pension. You also get tax relief from the government.

Your retirement income is based on how many years you’ve worked for your employer and the salary you’ve earned.

Defined Contribution (DC) scheme

The contributions paid in by you and your employer are invested to build up a retirement income. You also get tax relief from the government. Your benefits are based on your pension savings plus investment earnings. You have several options when you decide to take your benefits.

Dependant

Someone who relies to some extent on your income, such as your partner and children.

Early retirement

You can take your scheme benefits before you reach your normal retirement age.

ESPS

The Electricity Supply Pension Scheme.

Group Trustees

Each company in the ESPS has a set of Group Trustees, some appointed by the Company and others elected by members. The chairman – who is an appointed Group Trustee – has a casting vote.

The Trustees’ responsibilities are broadly to administer the Rules of the Scheme with respect to the benefits of, and contributions by, members, and to be fully responsible for the Group’s investments. Meet the E.ON UK Trustees

Guaranteed Minimum Pension (GMP)

This is the minimum pension that ESPS has to provide you if you were contracted-out of the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS). This applies to service before 6 April 1997 only. It is broadly equal to the Additional State Pension you would have earned if you had not been contracted-out of SERPS for this period.

HMRC

HM Revenue & Customs, responsible for tax collection, some welfare payments and other regulatory business.

Incapacity

Physical or mental ill-health which, in the opinion of the ESPS medical adviser, is permanent, and prevents you from doing your job or similar work.

Lifetime Allowance (LTA)

The Lifetime Allowance was abolished from 6 April 2024 and new Lump Sum Allowances were introduced. You can read more about each of these elsewhere in the glossary.

Historically, the LTA was the maximum amount you could build up in all of your registered pension savings throughout your working life before you had to pay additional tax.

The LTA for the tax year 6 April 2022 to 5 April 2023 was £1,073,100.

Lump sum

When you retire, dependant on your membership category, there may be a lump sum payable to you in addition and you may have the option to commute some of your pension for a higher tax-free cash lump sum. Your lump sum is up to 25% (but no more than £268,275) of the total value of your pension.

Lump Sum Allowance (LSA)

The LSA is a cap on the amount of tax-free lump sum you can receive from all your registered pension arrangements.

The standard LSA is £268,275. If you have an LTA protection, you may have a higher allowance than set out above.

If the only pension arrangement you are a member of is the E.ON UK Group of the ESPS, you only need to consider whether the total tax-free lump sum you want to take from this Scheme is more than your available LSA.

If you have previously taken pension benefits from either the E.ON UK Group of the ESPS or another scheme, it will be taken into account and will reduce the available LSA for future retirements.

Lump Sum and Death Benefits Allowance (LSDBA)

This is the cap on the tax-free lump sum that can be paid to, or in respect of, a member of a registered pension scheme. If the value of lump sum death benefits means that the LSDBA will be exceeded, the excess may be taxed at the marginal rate of income tax of the person receiving it.

The standard LSDBA is £1,073,100. If you have an LTA protection, you may have a higher allowance than set out above.

Member

A person who has joined a pension scheme and built up benefits in that scheme.

Money Purchase pension

A term for Defined Contribution schemes.

National Insurance contributions

Money taken from your pay by the government, which is used to fund the State Pension and other State benefits.

Normal Pension Age (NPA)

The earliest age at which a member can usually receive full pension benefits.

Normal Retirement Date

This is the date when you would normally expect to retire and start claiming your pension benefits

Overseas Transfer Allowance (OTA)

This only applies to transfers out to a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Transfer Scheme. The OTA limit will be £1,073,100, unless a valid LTA protection is held. If the transfer value exceeds the OTA, there will be an overseas transfer charge (OTC) of 25%.

Pension

A savings plan for retirement.

Pensionable earnings

Your employer’s contributions to your pension are based on a percentage of your earnings. This is called pensionable earnings.

Pension benefits

A general term for money paid from a pension scheme.

Pension Input period (PIP)

This is a period of time (the tax year) used to measure contributions paid – or benefits built up – on behalf of a member, which are then measured against the Annual Allowance.

Pension scheme administrator

The person or company that runs a pension scheme, pays benefits and carries out legal duties, for example, paying certain tax charges to HMRC. Your scheme’s administrator is Railpen

Pensionable service

The length of time you have actually contributed to the scheme up to the date you retire or leave.

Protected member

An employee who joined ESPS before 31 March 1990 (or who was eligible to join at that date and joined later).

Qualifying Service (used to decide whether benefits can be awarded)

This equals:

  • your period of actual contributory membership of ESPS up to the date you retire or leave, plus
  • the period of membership of another pension scheme, from which a transfer has been paid to ESPS (known as a ‘back service credit’).

Retail Prices Index (RPI)

This is a measure of inflation which is published every month. It compares changes in the cost of a sample of retail goods and services.

Salary

Your basic annual salary or wages plus any other contractual payment that your employer defines as pensionable.

Scheme

The Electricity Supply Pension Scheme (ESPS).

State Pension

The pension paid to UK citizens by the Government when they reach State Pension age.

State Pension age (SPA)

The age you start to receive your State Pension benefits. You can work out your State Pension age using the GOV.uk calculator.

Summary Funding Statement

A report that tells you the financial position of your scheme at the time of its actuarial valuation or annual funding update. It also describes the main reasons for any changes in funding position and, if the Section is in deficit, shows the agreed recovery plan.

Trustee

An individual or group responsible for governing a pension scheme.

Valuation

An assessment of a scheme’s performance over a given timeframe (every three years for Defined Benefit schemes) to compare funds being paid in against funds being paid out.