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DWP turns to the universal pension

Axa believes the universal state pension is back on the agenda after the Department for Work and Pensions asked for industry feedback on whether a residency-based scheme would be cheaper than contribution- based benefits.

The question is in the DWP’s consultation, Women and Pensions: The Evidence, issued last week. The DWP says: “Given the improvements in basic state pension accruals, which are providing pension coverage for more and more people, would the gains from a residence based, as opposed to contribution-based, eligibility for the basic state pension provide a cost-effective and practical alternative way of improving equity of entitlements?”

Axa head of pensions and savings policy Steve Folkard says this should be interpreted as a move by the Government in favour of a universal scheme. Axa has been a supporter of the universal basic state pension idea, which is also strongly backed by the NAPF but is opposed by the ABI.

He says: “Universal pensions have always been on the agenda but the DWP is now formally adding it into the debate.”

Standard Life head of pensions policy John Lawson says: “Women’s pensions are an important social issue but I do not know how the Government would pay for a universal state pension.”

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