Currently, pensions and ISAs happily coexist and give savers two quite different methods of building up medium and longer term savings.
But they are very different savings tools, and the thought of a pension ISA being a potential alternative to a pension is worrying.
A fundamental tenet of saving into a pension is that this is something that will be preserved, and grow in order to fund financial security in retirement. Pensions can't usually be accessed at all until age 55, so subject to investment performance, what is put into a pension will accumulate and grow over the savings period without any chance of it being dipped into by the saver.
An ISA allows savers to dip in and take out savings at any time without restriction. Imagine the danger to financial security in retirement if a pension allowed that.
If a pension ISA is to be introduced as part of the ongoing pension reforms, one thing is for sure, there will need to be a whole raft of health warnings for savers who may wish to take money out as well as put money in. And there will be an even greater need for financial education at every stage of an individual's career to explain these risks.
Former pensions minister Steve Webb has accused the Chancellor of orchestrating a ‘daylight robbery’ with his proposed options to reform pensions tax relief, which would “steal billions of pounds in tax revenues from the next generation”. In a report out today, Webb (pictured), now policy director at Royal London, warned against replacing the current system with either a pension ISA or a low flat-rate of tax relief for all. He also warned it would be a "grave mistake" to cut the financial support available for pension saving, as he called for any new system to provide stability and simplicity.