embargo: 00.01hrs Monday 20 June 2005
Four organisations, including the TUC, are today (Monday) announcing the formation of a new Peoples Pensions Coalition to speak on behalf of millions of UK citizens and to call for a new pensions settlement that will deliver a fair deal for pensioners of the future.
A statement from Which?, Help the Aged, Age Concern and the TUC says that Britain is stoking up a pensions crisis, with governments of all parties and employers retreating from providing a decent income in retirement. Meanwhile most people cannot afford to save for a pension and even those that can arent saving enough.
The Peoples Pensions Coalition statement says that:
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'This is an unprecedented alliance for a radical new pensions settlement. Many in the pensions debate are vested interests. Their lobbying is entirely legitimate, but this powerful coalition speaks for millions. Ministers and the Turner Commission should take careful note."
Graham Vidler, head of policy research, Which?, said: 'We are at a critical point in the pensions debate; its time the voices of the millions of people this coalition represents are listened to and acted on. We urge the Turner Commission to be radical. We all need a decent income in retirement: compulsion is the fairest way of delivering it.'
Mervyn Kohler, head of public affairs at Help the Aged said: "Help the
Aged believes that the case for wholesale pensions reform has now been
made. The existing state pension system is failing to protect
pensioners from poverty and does not provide a firm foundation for
"The People's Pension Coalition will work to convince the Government
that fudging the necessary decisions on pensions reform will not solve
the pensions crisis. The Government now has an obligation to ensure a
decent retirement for both today's and tomorrow's pensioners."
Age Concern's Director-General Gordon Lishman said: "Building a national consensus on pensions which addresses the key principles of reform is crucial. A complete overhaul of the system is needed to tackle widespread pensioner poverty, ensure fairness for those on low and modest incomes, and give women and carers the chance to build up a decent retirement income. This coalition demonstrates the strength of support for radical pension reform that will stand the test of time."
The full text of the statement from the Peoples Pensions Coalition appears below:
Britain is stoking up a pensions crisis. Governments of all parties and employers have been retreating from providing a decent and secure income in retirement. Even those who can afford to make up the difference are rarely saving enough - and most simply cannot afford it. Individuals are increasingly being expected to bear all the risks inherent in investment and savings.
We welcome the setting up of the Pensions Commission, and believe their first report provides an accurate picture of our pensions crisis and makes clear that tinkering will not be enough. Nothing less than a radical new pensions settlement is necessary.
This will take political courage if it is to secure a progressive consensus. But we believe the work of the Pensions Commission and the current high visibility of pensions issues provides an unmissable opportunity to win radical reform and to make hard choices.
But such a progressive consensus cannot be built from splitting the difference between todays pensions vested interests. Every radical proposal has already met opposition. It needs to be based on popular support from tomorrows pensioners and in a way that will ensure that future governments will not dare to tamper with it.
This is why we have formed this new Peoples Pensions Coalition.
We are a group of representative and advocacy groups that speak for millions of citizens. Unlike others we do not have a vested commercial interest in the eventual shape of the pensions system. We want to ensure that the voice of the ordinary person worried about their future retirement income is fully represented in the debate.
We want to speak up for a new pensions settlement that will deliver a fair deal for the pensioners of the future. We pledge to play our part in helping win support for a new pensions settlement in which government, employers and individuals all play their part.
We recognise that radical proposals will need to be phased in, and in this statement we therefore deal with building a system for the future that can meet the needs of those currently below retirement age. That does not mean we are not campaigning elsewhere for a better deal for todays pensioners.
We share a common commitment to achieving pensions justice that will not just lift tomorrows pensioners above the poverty line but provide dignity for all, and a common recognition that this requires major changes in our pensions system with new rights and new responsibilities. That end unites us, and we set out our common principles below.
Pensions reform is inevitably highly technical and complex. There is no perfect system and we all recognise that compromises and trade-offs will be needed to construct a new pensions settlement. Not all the organisations backing the Peoples Pensions Coalition agree on every policy detail. Some simply do not have a position on some of the issues at stake because of the nature of their organisation.
But we have more in common and we pledge ourselves to facilitate discussion and work together on the issues set out in this statement.
We believe that everyone in retirement should be able to count on pension provision from the state that will lift pensioners above the poverty line and provide a foundation on which they can build further income in retirement.
State pension provision should be set at a level that will end the need for mass means testing and it should automatically rise in line with earnings so that pensioners share in the growing prosperity of the nation.
Too many - particularly women - miss out on an adequate state pension because career breaks, low pay or caring responsibilities mean they have failed to build up sufficient contributions. This needs urgent reform.
But the states role does not stop with the direct provision of pensions, it has a responsibility to ensure that occupational and private pensions provision is fair, secure and plays its proper part in the provision of retirement security.
The current voluntary system is failing. Even the best-intentioned and expensively marketed government and industry schemes to encourage pensions take up have failed to significantly close the savings gap. Employers who provide decent pensions are being undercut by those who do not.
We believe therefore that employers and employees should contribute to a pension that will provide an additional pension on top of that currently available from the state. Most employees and employers currently pay compulsory contributions through the state second pension or a contracted out private pension. Increased compulsion through the state and/or private contributions is needed to provide decent pensions for all.
This additional pension could be provided by a combination of traditional occupational schemes, industry and sector wide schemes, a revitalised state second pension and other private arrangements.
Special arrangements need to be made for the low paid and those spending time out of the paid workforce with caring responsibilities. Neither should miss out on the chance to build up an adequate pension.
We do not all agree on the future of the state pension age, with the TUC and Age Concern clear that it should stay as it is, while others do not have a clear position or are open to change as part of a new system.
Yet there is much on which we agree about extending choice for older workers based on our opposition to age discrimination.
We oppose retirement ages set by the state or employers. We believe that employees should have much more choice about when and how they retire, and believe that many wish to make a flexible change from work to retirement.
We support positive moves to help older people into jobs, and remain in the workforce through training, retraining, flexible working opportunities and effective age discrimination legislation and efforts to reduce barriers into work such as employer attitudes.
Pensions and employment rights legislation should reinforce and encourage these options.
Much of the current pensions system is based on outdated assumptions that people will live in stable family units all their lives and that women can depend on the pensions built up by their husbands. We wish to move towards a pensions system that is much fairer for women and is based on the idea of everyone building up their own independent pensions entitlement. It must take account of broken work records caused by caring responsibilities, and extended periods of time spent in part time, often low paid employment to fit around caring or parenting responsibilities. The pensions system should recognise we live in a globalised economy and that many people who retire in the UK may not have worked all their lives in this country.
a simpler and better understood pensions system
Britain's pensions system is one of the most complex in the world. While we accept there are trade offs between simplicity, equity, and flexibility we support moves to make the system simpler and more straightforward. We believe that policy makers must grapple with the choice paradox - that increasing pensions options can end up confusing people and making them less likely to save for retirement.
We believe that there needs to be new sources of help and advice, particularly for the lower paid, and those not in paid employment.
We believe that a new body independent from government, and able to think and plan long-term, should be established to safeguard the new pensions consensus that we pledge to help create. It should provide early warnings of new challenges, suggest changes to government, safeguard the future of pensions and ensure policy continuity.
Help the Aged
Media enquiries: Liz Chinchen, T: 020 7467 1248; M: 07778 158175; E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Press release (1,900 words) issued 20 Jun 2005
This page http://www.tuc.org.uk/economy/tuc-10046-f0.cfm
printed 23 May 2013 at 22:53 hrs by 188.8.131.52