TUC hopes report will ‘ignite pensions debate’

The TUC has called on tomorrow’s report by the Turner Commission to ‘ignite the pensions debate’

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said in advance of the first report that  there was every sign it will confirm that the UK is heading for a major pensions crisis.

“Its evidence should ignite a wider debate, with the hope that a real national consensus and a new pensions settlement can be established after the forthcoming election when the commission makes its final report,” he said.

Barber said there are some large areas of agreement emerging from the debate already which could provide the start of the radical overhaul the pensions system needs.

“First, voluntarism has failed,” he said. “Left to their own devices, individuals do not save enough for a decent pension, and most cannot afford to put enough away each month.

“This is why unions are calling for a new pensions partnership where employers and employees contribute to pensions though a mix of a revitalised state second pension, particularly for the low paid, with additional occupational and defined contribution schemes for those earning more.”

Barber also said there was too much means testing. With the state retirement pension no longer pegged to earnings, more and more people will rely on means-tested benefits in retirement, he claimed.

He also called for a more choice about how and when people retire and a new look at women’s pensions. “If we are going to get a new pensions settlement that lasts, we will need to take some tough decisions,” Barber said.

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