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Personal Accounts given an upgrade

The Government’s technical paper on Personal Accounts has been upgraded to a White Paper to allow for extra consultation on areas such as advice, pensions minister James Purnell has announced.

Speaking at the Money Marketing/Cicero Consulting pensions summit in London last week, Purnell said a technical paper was not sufficient to take into account the impact the scheme would have.

Purnell said: “We decided just doing a technical paper will not be sufficient and this reform raises significant issues of public policy affecting society in general. Advice will be an area where we will be bring out some proposals but will also throw it back on the industry.”

He said the test would be whether simple generic advice can be delivered around an individual’s suitability to stay in Personal Accounts, which MAIN POINTS

l White Paper was needed to give extra scrutiny to the scheme

l Issues such as advice will be thrown back to the industry

l Still working on a time-table to publish White Paper by end of year

l Biggest change to welfare system since World War 2

l Charges are not secondary issue

l Means testing controversy: the test is will people have more money?

l Simple, generic advice will be possiblehe believes is possible. He rejected suggestions that charges were a secondary issue and said the Government remained convinced of the importance of keeping charges low.

He said low charges made the “crucial difference” to an individual’s retirement income and used the example of getting down to a 0.5 per cent charge equating to an individual being £600 a year better off.

Purnell played down concerns over the impact of means testing and said the key test would be whether the individual would have more money through being in the scheme.

He said the fact that 80 per cent of those on means testing by 2050 will be on savings credit – which produces an incentive to save even if a percentage of the savings will be lost – is good enough for the Government.


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