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ABI’s Haddrill “appalled” by Government’s attitude towards savings/pensions

ABI director general Stephen Haddrill has criticised the Government for its focus on the “short-term economic challenges” and is “appalled” by its failure to recognise the importance of saving.

Speaking at the ABI Savings Conference today, Haddrill says savings overall is at the lowest level for 50 years, and the Government is doing little to highlight “the crisis looming in the medium and long-term”.

Haddrill is now calling for a “concerted and coordinated” campaign to boost saving among Brits.

He said: “For this campaign to be effective, it must bring together both the Government and the private sector in delivering a unified message. It must also focus on what is important to people when they think about saving. For example, respondents to our survey said they would be more inclined to start saving, or to save more, if the Government contributed to every £1 saved in a pension.”

However, Haddrill said such a plan would be thwarted by peoples’ lack of understanding around tax relief. He said: “People do not understand tax relief. It needs to be rebranded so the public understand its benefits. We must listen to what people are saying, and talk to them in ways that work for them.”

Another area requiring regulatory reform is the marketing of debt. Haddrill said: “Debt marketing has outstripped savings marketing by a factor of three. Not surprising. It is so much easier to sell credit than saving. To get a credit card takes a fraction of the time it takes to open a saving account. We hope the Minister’s comments signal a new readiness to address this.”

Also top of Haddrill’s agenda was the ABI’s work with the Government to preserve employer confidence in existing pension schemes, work which he said has resulted in the Government amending the Pensions Bill to provide for a system of employer self-certification of existing schemes.

According to Haddrill the Government now has a “golden opportunity” to boost workplace pension saving before 2012, despite its “omission from the pre-Budget report”. He suggested allowing auto-enrolment before 2012, which he claimed would boost saving.

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