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Opposition doubt reforms will raise saving

Opposition parties say the Government has failed to prove its pension reforms will raise the nation’s savings levels and claim the continuation of means-testing will discourage savers.

Responding to the White Paper in Parliament, Tory Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Philip Hammond said it was far from clear how the proposals would improve savings habits.

The Tories are concerned that the implementation of the national personal accounts scheme, the abolition of the contracted-out rebate and other reforms will worsen the savings ratio rather than improve it.

Hammond called on the Government to ensure its review of occupational scheme regulations prevents the reforms from becoming the death knell for such benefits.

He says: “It is far from clear to us that, with 30 to 45 per cent of the pensioner population remaining within means-tested benefits, savings behaviour will change as is required to deliver the Government’s objectives.”

LibDem Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary David Laws says the continued reliance on means-testing will undermine incentives to save while failing to provide a decent minimum income to keep all pensioners out of poverty.

Laws says: “The Government is building its future pension system on the sand of a totally inadequate basic state pension. The continuation of complexity, mass means-testing and a low basic pension threaten to undermine today’s settlement.”

Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton has responded to criticism of the continuation of means-testing – which is planned to level out at around 33 per cent of pensioners – by claiming that only 6 per cent of pensioners will be in receipt of the guaranteed credit by 2050, with the remainder receiving a savings credit designed to reward saving.

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