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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 October 2005, 18:43 GMT 19:43 UK
MPs' Lobby: Rights of savers
Photo of Malcolm Rifkind MP
Malcolm Rifkind thinks he should encourage people to save more, do you?

The shadow work and pensions secretary Malcolm Rifkind wants to encourage people to save more for retirement.

A pensions crisis is looming in the UK, with an ageing population, a savings gap of some 27bn and the declining value of the state pension, paired with the collapse of several high-profile private funds in recent years.

What the Rights of Savers Bill will do
Introduce simple Savings and Retirement Accounts (SaRa)
Creating Retirement Income funds to hold pension monies upon retirement
Companies to offer payroll deductions for designated stakeholder pensions
Capital may be returned, upon death of post-75s, where value-protected annuities purchased
The Conservative MP for Kensington and Chelsea thinks that people can be encouraged to save more and receive greater benefits upon retirement by offering simpler and more flexible options.

What would encourage you to save more? Should the government take more responsibility for ensuring people are financially prepared for retirement? What would you do to improve the pensions system?

We have put your questions to Malcolm Rifkind and the interview appears to the right and will be broadcast on BBC Parliament on Saturday 29 October at 2045 BST.

Perhaps taking some action to burst the ludicrous house price bubble would be useful, so that young workers can afford to put money into a pension rather than it all going on the mortgage. Is this something the Tories would consider?
David Russell, Newton Mearns, Scotland

We have scrimped and scraped and worked our fingers to the bone buying and renovating properties that we rent out. These and our family-run business, that we built up from scratch, should give us a comfortable retirement. Anyone who relies on the state or a pension fund for a comfortable old age is in for a rude surprise.
Maureen B, London

How does Mr Rifkind propose closing the widening pensions gap between those employed by the state, whose salaries and pensions are paid for by all taxpayers, and those working in the private sector?
David Makinson, Bolton

I don't want a fund manager to get fat on my fees
Al, Liverpool
I want flexiblility and control of my money in pension savings. Flexibility to put in as much as I can when I want, into a wide range of assets. I don't want to be forced into buying an annuity at a poor rate that won't give me back what I put in and I don't want a fund manager to get fat on my fees. Most of all realising I am 31, work in the private sector and will have to provide my own pension pot, I don't want to be sold up the river and have to be taxed a fortune in 30 years time to fund a bloated public sector.
Al, Liverpool

The government seems to be putting about a lot of misleading information. We pay the lowest basic state pension of any Western European country, including Turkey. Secondly you can choose to take the basic state pension between 65 and 70 - what is wrong with that? There certainly wasn't any 'pensions problem' when we had SERPS. SERPS was the ideal compulsory pension scheme. But it's been made pointless by the Pensions Credit scheme, for most of us. Pensions credits make it pointless for any of us basic rate taxpayers to start a pension - and if we could all opt-out of SP2 I'm sure we'd all do that too. I can't express these pretty obvious views in the government's pensions 'consultation' - it doesn't fit in with any of their 'Four approaches' some 'public consultation'! And shouldn't the minimum income guarantee be the same as the basic state pension - and linked to earnings?!
Roger Thompson, Southend

How on earth am I meant to save for retirement? I'm still paying off student loans that I needed to finance my PhD, and am busy paying for someone else's retirement fund through my monthly rent of their buy-to-let. Even if I were able to save 20-30k to get on the property ladder the payments would be financially crippling. Where is the money going to come from? A whole generation is paying a fortune for education and a roof over their heads, without the help of inflation to eat away their debts. And nobody seems to care.
Mick, London

Those working for the public sector will be alright and MPs will be very well taken care of but the rest of us, thanks to this government's inept handling have very little to look forward to when retiring. Those of us who have been 'prudent' and saved will have absolutely no help from the 'caring' Labour Government or any other one for that matter. Very little incentive to save in reality.
SP, Southampton

I have no problem with having a private pension. I do have an issue with paying into it for my whole life, and if I die the day after I take my pension, the whole thing goes to the life company and my family gets nothing. This does not encourage people to save. How does the government propose to deal with this?
Natalie Gist, UK

The return of capital after death for over 75s seem a good idea-especially as many will probably be still working near that age in the years to come. I am disappointed that the proposed choice of the return of capital for those who have small private pensions choice does not look like being implemented for April 2006.
M Monaghan, London

By the time we have paid off the mortgage each month there is nothing left to save
Martin, Worthing
I would welcome anything which made the options for saving for pensions easier to understand and the ideas mentioned in the Rights of Savers Bill seem very sensible. My problem is that I just don't have enough free income to save for retirement. My wife and I earn reasonable salaries and live a pretty frugal life. Even so, by the time we have paid off the mortgage each month, paid the bills, fed and clothed ourselves and our daughter, and met the extortionate train fares to get to work, there is nothing left to save. A realistic proposal to control public expenditure and cut taxes, helping us find free income to save, would make a good accompaniment to this bill.
Martin Moore, Worthing

The pensions crisis is the sole responsibility of Gordon Brown. The politicians voted themselves extra funds to close a hole in their pension pot - how did Malcolm Rifkind vote then may I ask?
Kim, Birmingham

I would like the chancellor to repay the money he has taken/stolen from the pension scheme fund profits, this would help reduce the deficit, this would certainly encourage me to pay more into my works scheme. To be honest the issue of pensions being taxed needs reviewing, pensions should be ring fenced.
John, Chepstow

My employer provides a good group pension scheme, this will be a start for my later years. In the meantime I will be investing in property. I really do fear for my financial stability when retirement age comes. Come on Mr Blair - buck up your ideas.
Kev, Cardiff

I saved 200 per month for my pension then I was made redundant. And I can't claim benefits because I have too much in savings. Meanwhile those who cannot be bothered can claim up to the hilt - a complete waste of time.
Geoff Gwillym, London

When MPs vote for huge inflation proofed pay rises and pensions for themselves it ill becomes them to tell the rest of us how to save. Why should we - let the state provide as they take everything we have anyway. They could start by reducing their perks in that respect and perhaps, just perhaps, they might be listened to.
Bob Makay, Aberdeen

I do not pay into any form of pension. I paid into a final salary scheme for 16 years and that is under threat. The combination of insecurity, pensions mis-selling scandals, high management charges, Gordon Brown dipping his hand into pensions and the inability to withdraw money once it is paid in is a strong disincentive. I prefer to save money in my own choice of investments where, although I don't get the (now greatly reduced) tax benefits it is at least under my control.
Kate Corwyn, UK

So many of today's youth are not bothered about making pension plans. What will happen to all those that have not bothered when they reach pensionable age? Have the government made contingencies for this or will there be masses of old folk on the streets? They have to live, but how? It will surely mean a massive rise in social security handouts, which in turn will cause rises in taxes for us responsible people.
RAW Carey, Birmingham

The real question is how you protect those people in low pay jobs
John, London
Encouraging people to save is ducking the main issue. The real question is how you protect those people in low pay jobs who will never earn enough to save for a comfortable retirement. We already have a big gap between those pensioners with company pensions and those who rely on the state and this is only likely to get worse.
John O'Donnell, London

It's alright for politicians to tell us to save more, they earn enough to do so. I earn a mere 300 a month, so how am I supposed to save money? If it wasn't for my partner I wouldn't have a roof over my head. Wake up Mr politician - the rest of us live in the real world.
Stephen Jones, Colwyn Bay

The extra income that a pensioner is given in means tested benefits if they haven't bothered to work or haven't bothered to save in their working lives is massive in comparison to the basic pension. It would require about 100,000 to purchase an annuity which would pay as much. Hence the first 100k that anybody saves towards their pension is a complete waste of money. This 'sneak socialism' means that most people are caught in the means testing trap and know that there is no point in trying to save anything for themselves.
Nick Fahidy, London

Those saving for a pension scheme have been treated very badly in the past. The value of pensions taken out privately have crashed, company schemes are in danger of failing to pay out, some have seen their pensions plundered to prop up ailing businesses. Pension schemes are stacked against those who change jobs. Only the fat cat shareholders and directors are getting fat on pension schemes. In fact, my own savings account has given a better return on investment than my own private pension. How will the government restore people's confidence in what to date has been nothing less than a disaster?
P Burns, Fleet

Restoring the tax break that Gordon Brown abolished in 1997 would be a start. This caused the pensions crisis, making traditional pension schemes unattractive and persuading many older people to get buy-to-let properties as an alternative, thus pricing many young people out of the property market and causing much ill-feeling in the process. And it's no wonder people have lost confidence in traditional pensions when people are forced to take annuities that are so low at the moment.
Chris Ashley, London,

Property investment is fine, but easily taxed and controlled
John, Huddersfield
The big problem is inflation as it ensures a pound saved today will be worth maybe 1/10 in buying power in 20 years. Equally a debt taken on now is shrunk into insignificance over many years. The actual numbers are meaningless, so any sensible saver uses gold or small high value items as a store of value beyond the reach of governments. Property investment is fine, but easily taxed and controlled. Of paramount importance to pensions is a stable currency with near zero inflation, however this would be politically impossible. Why should I save at all? the government will destroy 90% of the value and tax any private/pension income at punitive rates in order to support the destitute.
John Denby, Huddersfield

At the moment, I don't put much into my pension scheme because I don't trust the government not to change the rules yet again at some point in the future. The tax breaks have been reduced by new Labour but I have no option but to remove my investments. Means-testing means it may not even be worth my while saving for a pension.
Simon Robinson, London


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