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The state of the nation&#39s savings

The body renowned for checking that the Chancellor gets his sums correct -the Institute for Fiscal Studies is to launch a huge rolling survey of the British public&#39s levels of pensions,savings and home ownership.

The survey every two years, which will cover 13,000 people, could well become a sort of national fact-find. With a meaningful benchmark for wealth, it may just be possible to give a sensible answer to the question where we stand at present and where we want to end up.

Bringing housing into the equation is particularly important as, rightly or wrongly, this is an increasing part of people&#39s investment and pension planning.

Too often in the past, pensions, in particular, have become a party political football, as the recent struggles over annuities reveal, while the way that providers and advisers, Government and consumer groups communicate leaves a lot to be desired.

The fact that the last two retail pension reforms – the personal pension and the stakeholder pension – managed to be misdesigned to varying degrees should really lead to soul-searching by all concerned.

Now it appears that another pension reform and a radical shake-up of with-profits versus mutual funds is planned to add to the revolution on the advice side.

The survey may help establish some hard numbers on just how all this fits together in terms of what it means for people&#39s pockets. In a few years time, it could even allow Government and its gang of reviewers to see if they have got it right. It is just a shame it wasn&#39t done five or even 10 years ago.

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