The pensions sector has begun to digest the possible implications on retirement savings after the shock vote to exit.
Tom McPhail, head of retirement policy at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Pension tax relief costs the exchequer billions every year and there may now be increased pressure to balance the Budget; the government top up to our retirement savings could be an early casualty.
“The current Chancellor George Osborne had threatened an emergency Budget in the event of a Leave vote. Whether this happens or not, the possibility of further curbs to pension tax relief has now increased, so investors would be well-advised to make the most of the available tax relief while they still can.”
State pensions could also be affected, he said.
He said: “During the Referendum campaign the Prime Minister warned that a Leave vote could mean the end of the Triple Lock on state pensions (annual increases of the greater of CPI, Earnings growth and 2.5%). This assertion was made on the basis that the economy would take a down-turn and that public spending might not be able to sustain the expense of this policy.
“The State Pension is expensive, costing around £90 billion a year; it is a very big slice of the DWP budget so any changes to the state pension could involve substantial savings. If the Chancellor does now carry out his threat of a scorched earth Budget, then the Triple Lock could be an early casualty.”
He added there could also be a more rapid increase in state pension ages.
Former Pensions Minister Steve Webb, now director of policy at Royal London, doubts the triple lock will come under threat.
He said: "For today’s pensioners there may be concerns about threats to the ‘triple lock’ on the state pension, but it would be odd for a government to prioritise a cut which would affect the most powerful voting bloc in the country."
He said: “There is no doubt that we are entering a period of great uncertainty in which we will witness short-term market turmoil both in the UK and beyond. There will be much public debate about how this will impact the pensioners of today and tomorrow.
"Consumers who are concerned about their pensions and investments should take informed, impartial financial advice and avoid making knee-jerk decisions. Whatever action consumers choose to take it remains important that they continue to save and invest for their own retirement.
"There is no substitute for long-term saving when it comes to securing a comfortable future.
“Ultimately, pensions are a long-term project and their future depends on a healthy and growing economy. This, rather than the immediate future, will be the key test which will determine the quality of life in retirement of millions of UK citizens.”
Joanne Segars, chief executive of the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association, said: “The ramifications for UK pensions of the UK's decision to leave the European Union will start to become clear over the coming weeks and months.
“Much will depend on the precise nature of our future relationship with the EU, which may mean that some aspects of UK pension provision continue to be influenced by the EU. In other areas, UK pension law may need to be disentangled from EU legislation.
“The PLSA will continue to play a leading role in ensuring the pension fund perspective is clearly heard and understood in the uncertain times ahead to ensure that the needs and interests of pension funds and millions of pension savers are protected.
“It is essential that the UK government and policymakers in Brussels now act swiftly and decisively to manage current volatility and announce a clear plan to renegotiate our future relationship with the EU.”
Guy Myles, Founder and Chief Executive of online Financial Planning firm Flying Colours, said: “For pensions themselves, the risks are more subtle but potentially more damaging. The UK has one of the best regimes to encourage long term savings, and pensions in particular are very attractive. For many people, pensions offer the chance to double your money after tax in retirement, in comparison to a direct investment.
“Currently, the impact of EU regulations on pensions has been fairly subtle, such as better worker protection in final salary schemes and harmonization in accounting treatment.
“But we worry that future EU regulations could insist on harmonization of taxation for long term savings. This could mean that leaving the EU helps us avoid an attack on UK pensions’ taxation and, in all likelihood, reduction in the long term benefits.”