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When will Green shoots appear?

Those who want to make a difference to pension policy should seize this moment.

The predicted failure of next week&#39s Green Paper is your chance to make sure that meaningful change comes about by the time of the next Green Paper in, say, 2006.

If the consensus of opinion is to be believed, next week&#39s document will be hamstrung by inter-departmental rows and an inability to accept any responsibility for the decimation of employer-backed pensions and the failed stakeholder experiment.

Changes to benefits which disincentivise savings, in particular, the minimum income guarantee, have been as good as ruled out, while the pension credit, which is a partial solution to a problem of the Government&#39s own devising, will remain unaltered.

On the occupational side, there may be some help for beleaguered schemes but it feels as if that dam is already breached and no amount of beavering away at the detail will restore things.

On the retail side, the Government remains wedded to preventing the private sector from making a profit. The Green Paper will probably not even leave the Government facing in the right direction.

All these problems take place in the context of many pensioners, that is, those who are prepared to go through means-testing, feeling better off.

But few believe the Mig can survive in the long term, given the fact it runs contrary to every other long-term goal for welfare, so something else must be done.

We don&#39t think next week&#39s document will provide any answers, although we will happily eat our words if proved wrong. Perhaps it will be better that way. If the crisis deepens, it will at least guarantee the next Green Paper introduces meaningful change.

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