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Pressure is growing over spring deadline

The Government faces a tight self-imposed deadline of next spring to respond formally to Turner and is coming under strong pressure from the opposition to stick to its timetable.

Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton told the House of Commons that the Government welcomes the broad framework of the report and insists it has ruled nothing out of future reform. A White Paper is set to be published in the spring, making legislation likely in 2010.

But Labour backbencher Rob Marris was among those calling for more time to be devoted to the debate.

Conservative Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Malcolm Rifkind pressured Hutton on issues such as public sector pensions and tension between the Treasury and Number 10 over reform while a Conservative spokesman says the Government must not be allowed to delay the White Paper.

Jackson Consultancy director Ralph Jackson says the two main political battlegrounds on the White Paper will be public sector pensions and how the withering away of means-testing will sit with Brown’s desire to keep pension credit.

Rifkind says: “It seems there is now an emerging consensus on pension reform but there is still one figure outside the consensus – Gordon Brown.”

Cicero Consulting director Iain Anderson says: “It is going to be very hard for the Government to stick to the spring deadline, with pressure developing from backbenchers, and there is a great deal of debate to be had between Number 10, the DWP and the Treasury.”

Main proposals of Turner report l Creation of centralised National Pensions Savings Scheme with auto-enrolmentl Employers forced to pay in “modest” level of matching contribution for NPSSl Keep current two-tier state pension system (BSP and S2P)

l BSP linked to earnings, not inflationl Staggered increase in state pension age to 68 by 2050 (66 by 2030, 67 by 2040)

l A universal BSP dependent on residency, not contributionsl Accelerate evolution of S2P to flat-rate system by freezing upper earnings limit for S2P accrualsl Freeze rebates for DB schemesl Phase out/simplification of contracting-out rulesl No major reforms to tax relief systemPercentage of UK life and pension business derived from group pensions year to date 2005

Scottish Equitable 63% Norwich Union 60%

Friends Provident 53%

Scottish Life 50%

Standard Life 42%

Scottish Widows 23%

Clerical Medical 18%

Prudential 3.4%

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