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Pensions still face perils

With a White Paper on pensions to be issued this week, the Government is probably congratulating itself.

It could well feel there has been a tidy resolution to all the debate about Adair Turner’s report, with Blair and Brown striking a deal and a blueprint for reform established.

But several questions remain. Will means-testing really be phased out? Could the Government be doing something better with the time and resources which might shore up the existing arrangements or at least postpone the decline of company pensions? Will Turner increase the level of pension savings or will savings actually fall?

Will heavy handed or misplaced regulation of the advised market shut down pension savings in the meantime?

Standard Life warns that changes to contracting out could bring a 14bn savings drop. Axa says many employers will cut their contributions to a Turner minimum. Scottish Life’s Steve Bee has warned of a pension saving nuclear winter in the run-up to Turner if the Government gets it wrong.

What if they are correct? We thought amid all the back-slapping about any skilfully written White Paper, someone had better ask.

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