The National Pensions Debate started yesterday as secretary of state for work and pensions David Blunkett kicked off the first public discussion in East London, alongside the pensions minister, Stephen Timms.
In a telling statement about how seriously people take their retirement, only 40 members of the local community attended to discuss how best to provide the stability, certainty and fairness in the pensions system.
Estimates about the size of the deficit in pensions schemes range from £59bn (the Pensions Commission) to £130bn estimated by the Association of Consulting Actuaries.
Blunkett said one of the first things he wanted to do was take the debate on the future of pensions direct to the people it would affect.
“I want to reach out to people, to take the public into our confidence,” he said. “To debate, listen and share the problems and ensure we all have ownership and understanding of the possible solutions.
“That’s why events like today are crucial to help establish a consensus that will provide the stability, certainty and fairness we all want to see in the pensions system.
“It is not enough just for politicians or industry to agree a way forward,” Blunkett said.
“This whole process will only work if people who will ultimately be affected by the decisions we make understand why they have been taken and know they have played a part in reaching the solution we all seek to the pensions challenge.”