Employers call for answers in flexible pension hold-up

The Government was urged by employers to openly debate the issue of flexible
retirement as soon as possible, at a conference in London last week.

Speaking at the event, minister for pensions Ian McCartney refused to commit
the Government to a date when it would review the current regulations.

He said, "It’s a complicated issue and we are examining ways to let
older workers draw occupational pensions and continue to draw a salary from
employers. We are committed to do it, as stated in our party manifesto."

Currently, Inland Revenue regulations prevent staff from drawing an
occupational pension and a salary from the same employer.

Sam Mercer, director of campaigns at the Employers’ Forum on Age, said,
"We are told that it’s a terribly complicated issue, but the Government
hasn’t explained why it is so complicated. We need to debate this issue,"
she said.

Ray Baker, sustainable development controller for B&Q, called for open
dialogue with the Government. He said, "The issue needs an open debate to
find out the issues which are stopping the Government from moving ahead more
quickly. We need to demystify pensions, and the Government must talk to employers
about it."

The Government missed its own deadline for a review of the pension
regulations. This was originally set for March 2000.

Mercer, commenting at the Employers’ Forum on Age annual conference. said,
"If the Government can’t afford so many economically inactive people in
the UK, then it needs to review the pension regulations to encourage flexible

By Karen Higginbottom


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