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Lib Dems put pensions back on the agenda

The new Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy brought pensions back to the forefront of the political agenda this week at the party&#39s Harrogate conference.


Kennedy said he had made it one of the priorities of his leadership to forge a political consensus on pensions reform.


Speaking at a fringe meeting with Lib Dem pension spokesman Steve Webb, Kennedy said he would approach both the Tories and the Government in order to bring pensions back &#34into a world of sanity&#34.


He said &#34If all three parties could sit down with each other and discuss this issue and in the interests of the country we reestablish the consensus [on pensions] that is an objective worth aiming for.&#34


He said in the 1980s there was consensus between major political parties on the issue. But continual changes in Government and constant shifts in policy prevented people planning for retirement.


Kennedy says he believes a great deal of damage was done by New Labour before the last election when it &#34scared people witless&#34 by suggesting the Tories wanted to privatise the state pension.


According to Kennedy this explains Conservative unwillingness to cooperate which he said he understood.


IFA Informed Choice managing director Nick Bamford says: &#34He has got a very valid point. At the moment people are reluctant to plan for retirement because of uncertainty.


&#34The biggest issue is not products or charges or performance but the problem with annuities. Part of the consensus Kennedy wants should be to find alternative ways of converting the pension into income.&#34



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