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Tories plan to raise tax relief to defuse pension timebomb

The Tories have unveiled plans to increase tax relief on pension contributions as part of their commitment to tackle the “pension timebomb”.

Under the proposals, basic-rate taxpayers would have their tax relief raised by 10p in the pound to 32p, adding £10 to every £100 saved towards a personal pension.

The Tories expect that around 10 million people would benefit from the rise, which would cost £1.7bn of the £4bn they have pledged in tax cuts. The scheme would come into effect from April 2006 and Tories say the relief across a working lifetime could boost a pension by up to £500 a year in retirement.

Tory leader Michael How-ard says: “Only by encour-aging more people to save can we ease anxieties and give our economy a brighter, better future.”

Other proposals include encouraging firms to promote pension schemes and using unclaimed bank assets to replenish failed pension funds.

Scottish Equitable pension development director Stewart Ritchie says: “The proposals are a step in the right direction and targeted at the battle- ground of middle-earners.”

Split-cap investors will hear this week how and when Fund Distribution is to make compensation payments. Eighteen fund management companies contributed to set up the company in December after a deal with the FSA, with Exeter Asset Management and Teather and Greenwood signing up this month.

Former ABI director general Mary Francis has joined the board of Aviva as an independent non-executive director. Francis, who joins the board in October, is also a non-executive director of the Bank of England and Centrica.

Total investment in Hargreaves Lansdown’s funds of funds have topped £250m since the company launched its first multi-manager product in 2001. It uses a mixture of qualitative and quantitative analysis with manager Lee Gardhouse. The three multi manager products are UK equity income, UK global growth and balanced managed.

Cofunds’ assets under administration have reached £4bn in four years since its launch with the platform taking in £1.7bn last year. The supermarket was set up in January 2001 and at its current rate of growth expects to break even by late 2006/early 2007. The firm expects its rate of asset accumulation to increase when it launches personal pension and investment bond wrappers through a tie-up with Legal & General this year.

Framlington managers are in the early stages of management buyout talks. Former chief executive Peter Chambers started the discussions in the autumn but resigned after senior managers at Framlington decided Chambers was not the right person to lead the buyout. The managers are still planning the buyout but have put plans on hold pending the appointment of a new chief executive. Framlington is 15 per cent owned by its staff.

Phil Cliff is to take over from Darrel O’Dea, as manager of Threadneedle’s European select growth fund. Cliff has been number two on the team and also manages Threadneedle’s pan-European Accelerando fund. He will switch roles with O’Dea, who becomes deputy manager on he select growth fund.

The number of first-time buyers doubled last month while prices in the housing market stayed steady, says the National Association of Estate Agents. FTBs per estate agency rose from an average of 10.1 per cent in February to 22.3 per cent in March.

Prudential is looking at developing its own wrap but says it will monitor the market before making any decisions. If it goes ahead, it says it will adopt a model that involves third parties sharing costs.

Citigroup Global Markets UK Equity has raised its stake in Kensington Group to 4.02 per cent shares. The movement has again sparked speculation over the future of Kensington Mortgages.

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