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Welfare Reform on the Web (February 2003): Pensions - UK

R Bennett

Times, Dec. 5th 2002, p.2.

Reports disagreements between the Treasury and the Prime Minister over pension reform. The Treasury has refused to consider suggestions that the basis of its approach, means tested benefits for the poorest pensioners, should be re-examined. No. 10 has in turn blocked moves to change tax breaks on pension contributions that benefit the better-off.

CAMPAIGN TO PROMOTE TAKE-UP OF STAKEHOLDER PENSION FAILS.

K Guha, T Tassell and N Timmins

Financial Times, Dec. 16th 2002, p.2.

Article discusses the failure of a multi-million pound advertising campaign to persuade people to take up stakeholder pensions. It also discusses the proposals contained within the pensions green paper.

CASH BOOST FOR WORKERS WHO PUT OFF RETIREMENT

N Morris

The Independent, December 17th 2002, p.2.

Workers relying on state pensions will be offered incentives to work past the normal age of retirement in long awaited government plans to reform the pension service.

GOVERNMENT TO DENY CLAIMS OF A £27BN GAP IN PENSIONS

K Brown, S Daneshkhu and N Timmins

Financial Times, Dec. 13th 2002, p.1

A green paper is to be published in which ministers are to reject the idea that there is a £27bn pension savings gap. The government wants to build on the current voluntary system of private pensions. It suggests that the Association of British Insurers when claiming a gap in savings, ignores other forms of saving, such as housing and assumes retirement on two thirds of final salary. The paper will back new pension saving products where the product, rather than its sale will be regulated. Article goes on to discuss briefly the tax implications.

(See also Financial Times, Dec. 16th 2002, p.1, Daily Telegraph, Dec. 16th 2002, p4.)

GREEN PAPER ON PENSIONS MAY LEAD TO MORE CLOSURES

N Timmins

Financial Times, December 20th 2002, p.4.

The government's green paper may accelerate changes and closures to occupational schemes rather than delay them, a leading pensions analyst warned yesterday. Peter Tompkins, vice-president of the Institute of Actuaries, said government proposals to require companies to consult employees before changing pension schemes were likely to lead to a vast number of closures before such a requirement became law.

THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE "NEW INSURANCE CONTRACT" FOR UK PENSION PROVISION: RIGHTS, RESPONSIBILITIES AND RISKS

P King

Critical Social Policy, vol. 22, 2002, p.551-571.

The UK government's pensions policy has the stated aims of providing security in old age for people who cannot provide for themselves and encouraging people, who can save, to do so. In practice provision of security means extension of means tested benefits for the poorest. Encouraging saving boils down to pushing employers and individuals alike towards money purchase pension provision. This effectively shifts the risks involved in pension provision away from government, employers and insurance companies to individuals.

LABOUR IS DESPERATE TO BOOST PRIVATE PENSIONS

Anon

Labour Research, vol. 91, Dec. 2002, p.12-13.

The UK government is trying to switch people away from state pensions just as personal and occupational pension schemes are collapsing.

PENSION PLAN WILL NOT SOLVE CRISIS, GOVERNMENT TOLD

K Guha, T Tassell and N Timmins

Financial Times, December 18th 2002, p.1

The government was widely accused yesterday of responding inadequately to the pensions "crisis" as it published more than 30 proposals to simplify pensions and encourage longer working lives. Critics fear employers will continue to close occupational pension schemes and then to wind them

(See also The Independent, December 8th 2002, p.6; The Guardian, December 18th 2002, p1, 5; Times, Dec. 18th 2002, p.1)

PLAN TO BEAT PENSION CRISIS BY SCRAPPING RETIREMENT AGE

R Jones

Guardian, Dec. 16th 2002, p.3.

A green paper has been published which suggests a package of measures designed to cope with Britain's deepening pension crisis. One measure being suggested is the scrapping of the compulsory retirement age. It is thought that up to 13 million people do not save enough currently towards retirement.

(See also Times, Dec. 16th 2002, p.1.)

RETIREMENT AGE PREDICTED TO CLIMB TO 70

T Tassell

Financial Times, Dec. 12th 2002, p.3.

An annual survey of occupational pensions showed a sharp acceleration in the shift away from final salary schemes in 2002. A total of 85 final salary schemes were closed to new entrants in 2002, compared to 46 in 2001.

(See also Independent, Dec. 12th 2002, p.23; Daily Telegraph, Dec. 12th 2002, p.33.)

SAVINGS ACCOUNTS 'FAILING THE POOR'

C Denny

The Guardian, December 30th 2002, p.2.

Labour's favourite think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research, has warned that the government's drive to encourage low income families to save for a rainy day is a failure. Individual savings accounts (ISAs) are missing their target and have proved no better at reaching low income households than the schemes they replaced. Their main beneficiaries are wealthy young people.

SIMPLICITY, SECURITY AND CHOICE: WORKING AND SAVING FOR RETIREMENT.

Department for Work and Pensions

London: TSO, 2003 (Cm 5677)

The government wants to encourage people to work beyond 65 and those who do so could see their state pensions increased in value by 10.4% per year. A pensioner could choose to take their boosted pension as a lump sum. It is proposed that from 2004 everyone will be given a single lifetime limit on how much they can pay into a pension and receive tax relief. The proposed lifetime limit is £1.4 million or £200.000 a year. In occupational pensions, government proposes simplifying the tax and regulatory regime and enabling employers to make scheme membership compulsory. Firms will have to consult employees before schemes are changed. The retirement age for public sector workers is to be raised from 60 to 65 for the new entrants by 2006. Current workers will still be able to retire at 60. Workers will be allowed to collect their pension and still work part-time for the same employer. An independent pension commission is to be set up to examine the case for compulsory saving and a new pensions regulator is to be created to combat fraud and maladministration. Finally, there are plans to introduce a "value protected" annuity scheme which would pay out a lump sum if the holder died before 75. Currently, pensioners must use their fund to buy an annuity but, if they die, their pension cannot be passed on to a surviving spouse.

STRIKE THREAT BY UNIONS IN BATTLE OVER PENSIONS

K Guha

Financial Times, December 17th 2002, p.2.

Failure to tackle the crisis in occupational pensions will result in a wave of strikes, unions have warned. The big private sector unions said that if the government was not prepared to use legislation to protect final salary schemes, they would fight to preserve them.

WOMEN AND PENSIONS IN NORTHERN IRELAND: OBSERVATIONS FROM RECENT RESEARCH

E Evason and L Spence

European Societies, vol. 4, 2002, p.381-392.

Paper reviews the implications for women of pensions policy in the UK in the light of recent research in Northern Ireland. There is a danger that the advances women have made in employment are being used to justify movement towards patterns of provision which are particularly ill-suited to the task of enabling women to escape means-testing and secure an adequate retirement income in their own right.

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