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Providers may have to gamble on IPAs

Providers may have to gamble that the Labour Government is re-elec ted if they want to launch individual pension accounts bec ause laws bringing the plans into effect may not be passed until the summer.

The Government unveiled the final format for the pension savings vehicle this week, saying it hopes for an April 2001 launch alongside stakeholder.

The three pieces of legislation required to start IPAs are in the Finance Bill, which implements the Budget and historically has not been passed before June or July.

The date for the Inland Revenue to finalise regulations on the tax regime for IPAs has yet to be confirmed while the Financial Services and Markets Act, which gives the FSA its authority, is not expected to be finalised before the end of the summer.

Many pundits predict a general election will be called in the spring, meaning prospective IPA providers will have to take their chances that Labour will remain in power.

Clerical Medical pensions strategy manager Nigel Stammers says: “It is very confusing. The way things stand, it is doubtful that IPAs will be available by next April. I do not see how providers can design products when the legislation allowing them will not be finalised.”

A Treasury spokesman says: “It is quite usual for initiatives to come into effect before the Finance Bill receives royal assent. We do not foresee any problems with this particular initiative.”

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