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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 November 2005, 03:50 GMT
Hutton unveils five pension tests
Secretary for Work and Pensions John Hutton
Mr Hutton will say individuals must take responsibility for their pension
People must take primary responsibility in providing for their own old age, the new pensions secretary is to say.

John Hutton will make his first major speech since succeeding David Blunkett when he addresses the Institute of Public Policy Research.

It comes a week ahead of an independent commission's report on pension reforms.

Mr Hutton says any changes must meet five tests - to promote "personal responsibility" and be fair, affordable, simple and sustainable.

His speech comes as speculation about the Pensions Commission's proposals continues to mount.

HUTTON'S FIVE TESTS
Promoting personal responsibility
Fairness
Affordability
Simplicity
Sustainability

The commission, headed by former Confederation of British Industry boss Lord Turner, is expected to call for a more generous state pension.

And it is tipped to propose raising the state pension age to 67 and creating a new national savings plan, into which individuals will automatically have to enrol.

Righting inequalities

Mr Hutton will say the primary responsibility for security in old age has to rest with each person and their family.

"An active welfare state must provide a floor below which no-one should be allowed to fall but its primary role must be to enable people to provide for themselves," he said.

He will say the system must be fair, protecting the poorest pensioners and correcting inequalities in pension provision for women and carers who may pay less in national insurance contributions.

The new scheme must be affordable to taxpayers and the economy as a whole, he will say.

"We will not put the long-term stability of the public finances at risk," Mr Hutton will say.

"And we should assess how reprioritising welfare spending can make a contribution to supporting pension reform."

'No rush to judgement'

The minister will stress the need for people to know what the government will do for them - and what is expected in return.

And the package must start a national consensus so people can plan for their retirements without fears that future governments will pull apart their plans by fiddling with the system.

Mr Hutton will add: "We must be committed to bringing about this long-term change - but that doesn't mean rushing to judgement. Nothing ruled in, nothing ruled out.

"The government will approach this debate with a genuinely open mind."




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