Minister to extend pension payments

Work and pensions secretary Andrew Smith wants to extend voluntary pensions
contributions by employers, suggesting that the introduction of a compulsory
scheme is highly unlikely.

Speaking at a pensions conference organised by the Confederation of British
Industry, Smith said there was already a fair degree of employer contributions
to pensions. "It has been a strength of the system that there has been
voluntary provision and I would very much like to build on that," he said.

His comments come as the TUC is pressing for employers to contribute 10 per
cent of salary to pension schemes, with workers compelled to join as a
condition of employment.

TUC deputy general secretary Brendan Barber told the conference he believed
the system could work, as it does in Australia.

"This is a radical and major intervention into the labour market that
needs to be underpinned by consensus to succeed," he said. "I am keen
to see the Government develop these ideas further in the Green Paper."

But John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, said he would like to see
the Government focus on developing a partnership that delivers pensions without
compulsory employer contributions.

"Compulsory contributions are all about punishment," he said.
"It is vital to help employers provide pensions through meaningful
simplification of regulation and tax incentives large enough to make a

In his speech, Smith promised to use the pensions Green Paper, due later
this year, to make sure voluntary provision by companies and individuals was
"very much easier".

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