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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 February, 2004, 12:47 GMT
Pensioners groups slam new bill
Pay slip
More workers may find themselves making pension contributions
Pensioners groups have criticised the new Pensions Bill for failing to help about 40,000 people in Britain whose private schemes failed in 2003.

The bill includes a pensions protection fund to guarantee workers' savings.

But Age Concern chief Gordon Lishman said: "It offers no help to the many people who have lost almost everything through no fault of their own.

"It is essential the government studies other options to compensate them," he added.

The bill, introduced by the Department for Work and Pensions, is the latest government attempt to restore trust in private pensions.

Under the bill, a pension regulator will be established to combat fraud and oversee the implementation of new rules.

And the protection fund will compensate workers if their pensions schemes are wound up.

Mr Lishman said: "We strongly support the fund - never again should people who have paid in to a pension scheme for many years be left with next to nothing if their employer goes bust.

"But it must be able to set premiums which reflect risk and also ensure remaining defined benefit schemes are retained.

"Lessons from around the world show schemes like this can be effective."

Rodney Bickerstaffe, president of Britain's biggest pensioner organisation, the National Pensioners Convention, said the bill failed to address existing and future pensioners' main problem - an inadequate basic state pension.

Today's workers are destined to be in a worse position when they retire than today's pensioners...
Rodney Bickerstaffe
National Pensioners Convention

"The government is spending a lot of effort on shoring up the private pensions industry without getting to grips with the real problem of a declining state pension," he said.

"All the evidence shows today's workers are destined to be in a worse position when they retire than today's pensioners unless the basic state pension is improved.

"Unfortunately, this bill doesn't even mention it."

Mr Bickerstaffe added: "None of the proposals puts a single extra penny on the state pension that millions of people will rely on when they reach 65."

Donald Duval, Society of Pension Consultants
"For individuals this might be quite beneficial"

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