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Conservatives would fast-track auto-enrolment

Conservative Shadow pensions minister Nigel Waterson says the Tories would make auto-enrolment into existing workplace pensions a priority if they win the general election and he has reaffirmed a plan to review personal accounts immediately after an election win.

At an industry dinner this week, he said: “We are signed up to a cheap, accessible workplace scheme. Whether this particular model is the right one remains to be seen. The present plan is to sign the contracts by the end of June, so there is a window for a quick review.”

But Waterson refused to give details of what the alternative would be. “There is a plan B but part of a plan B is that hopefully it will not be needed. We have no intention of showing it to anyone prior to the election.”

He said the two delays to full implementation of personal accounts, which are being rebranded Nest, and the complicated system for exempting existing workplace schemes cast doubt over the scheme. We do not want to inherit something that is set up to fail.”

Waterson said the Tories will prioritise measures to safeguard any remaining defined-benefit schemes but they have no plans to reverse the cuts to higher-rate pension tax relief that are due to come into effect in April 2011.

“It is not a priority. It is a political elephant trap with a big neon sign over it and we are not going to fall into it.”

Waterson also said a Conservative Government would not give the Pension Protection Fund a formal Treasury guarantee.

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