Pension reforms unveiled

The Government has unveiled what it says is the biggest shake up of the state pension system for generations.

The Government has unveiled what it says is the biggest shake up of the state pension system for generations.

Its Green Paper ‘A state pension for the 21st Century’ sets out options on how to simplify the system for future pensioners. It includes a single-tier state pension currently estimated at around £140 a week, set above the current guarantee element of Pension Credit. It says this would replace the existing combination of entitlements that make up the present state pension.

The plans are still based around the contributory principle and, says the Government, will "over time lift millions out of means testing and also put an end to inequalities in the current system that penalises women, low earners and the self-employed".

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith said: “Over the years small changes to the state pension system have turned what started as a relatively simple contributory system into a complex mess, leaving people utterly confused as to what the state pension means for them.

"We have to send out a clear message across both the welfare and pension system: you will be better off in work than on benefits and you will be better off in retirement if you save."

Minister for Pensions, Steve Webb said: “The current state pension system is dogged by complexity and confusion, it makes it very difficult to save for retirement and leaves millions of people relying on complicated means tested support.

“I’m proud to bring forward proposals that will end the unfairness inherent in the system and secure a fair, decent and simple state pension fit for the 21st century. These reforms will transform pension saving in this country for millions of people.”

Currently just under half of pensioners are eligible for means-tested Pension Credit to top up their state pension but around 1.6 million pensioners don’t claim, leaving them with a basic income of below the £132.60 guaranteed credit. The extent of reliance on means testing means that people cannot be sure they will benefit from the savings they put aside, says the Government.

It adds that state pension reform would underpin existing plans to automatically enrol people into workplace pensions from 2012, bringing between 5-8 million into saving for the first time.

Any contributions accrued by people under the current pension system would be honoured.

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