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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 May, 2005, 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK
'No off-limits' in pension debate
David Blunkett
David Blunkett says the government has to make difficult decisions
David Blunkett has refused to rule out forcing people to save more for their retirement in order to avert a pensions crisis.

Mr Blunkett, the new work and pensions secretary, told BBC News there were "no off-limits" in assessing the options.

Compulsory saving for private pensions is one way to address the huge pensions shortfall highlighted in an interim report by former CBI head Adair Turner.

Mr Blunkett said he was keen to build a cross-party consensus on the issue.

'No quick fix'

The former home secretary told the BBC's Breakfast with Frost all options were under consideration.

He said: "There are no off-limits here. We have got to be able to address quickly and decisively where we are going.

"I want to build a consensus so I want, with Adair Turner, to be able to reach out to the other major political parties because we need a lasting solution for the decades ahead, not a quick fix."

This is not a solution for government, it is a solution for all of us
David Blunkett
Work and Pensions Secretary
The initial Turner report found 12.1 million people aged 25 or over were failing to save enough for a comfortable retirement.

The complete findings, due to be published in November, could recommend compulsory savings and an extension of the retirement age to 70.

Mr Blunkett described the "enormity" of a situation where people were living on average 20 years longer and retiring earlier.

"When you grasp those facts you see that this is not a solution for government, it is a solution for all of us," he said.

Mr Blunkett said his department could help by achieving its target of getting 80% of the working population into employment.

He suggested foreign workers could also play a part in meeting the shortfall at the same time as filling skills gaps.

In a wide-ranging interview, Mr Blunkett said the government remained committed to its plans to introduce ID cards, despite a reduced Commons majority.

"All of us need to get up and get on with difficult decisions," he said.

"Get them on the statute book and get on with delivering services."