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Ritchie believes Blunkett has written off citizen’s pension

Pension guru Stewart Ritchie says Work and Pensions Sec- retary David Blunkett’s outburst against the citizen’s pension shows the idea will not get off the ground as long as he is minister.

Scottish Equitable pensions development director Ritchie says Blunkett is wrong to criticise the citizen’s pension as likely to promote “benefit tourism” because several years’ residency would be required to qualify.

The proposals drawn up by the National Association of Pension Funds’ citizen’s pensions steering committee – of which Ritchie is a member – carry a 10-year residency requirement prior to retirement.

Blunkett told an Age Concern event in Sheffield last week that the Government could not automatically give everyone a pension, as it would lead to an influx of people coming to Britain to retire.

He also said he would like to extend the rules allowing people to defer their pension at 65 in return for a lump-sum benefit.

Blunkett’s intervention is the latest of a series of public statements which have been interpreted by experts as pre-empting the findings of the Turner report. He has also announced that auto-enrolment will form part of Government pension plans, stoking speculation that compulsion could follow and said there should be a correlation between the age that people start work and when they can receive state pension provision.

In the run-up to the gene- ral election in May, the Government said no announcements or opinion about future policy decisions would be made until after the publication of the Turner report, due in November.

Blunkett told the Age Concern event: “We cannot give people who have not earned it a pension automatically because I think people would really blow at that. We would have the reverse of the Costa del Sol. Instead of everybody going to Spain in retirement, they would all come to Britain.”

Ritchie says: “Blunkett is trying to show that he will not be tied down by Turner and I doubt there will be a citizen’s pension while he is Pension Secretary. But these latest comments do not add to the arguments against a citizen’s pension.”

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