HC Deb 10 January 2000 vol 342 cc67-8W
30. Mr. Viggers

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what steps have been taken by the Government to promote personal provision of pensions. [102960]

Mr. Rooker

We published a Green Paper in December 1998, setting out our proposals for pension reform. Our proposals will help everyone build up a decent second pension. The reformed system will ensure that all those who can save for a second pension will be able to do so.

For people who have access to them, occupational pensions remain the best option; we have already implemented some of the measures we proposed to strengthen and support occupational pension schemes in the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999. Further measures are in the Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Bill currently before Parliament.

The new stakeholder pensions will be a secure, flexible, and value for money way to help up to 5 million people who do not have access to an occupational pension and for whom personal pensions can be unsuitable to save for their retirement. Stakeholder Pensions will be designed to help those on middle incomes—around £9,000-£20,000 a year—but will benefit those on higher incomes as well. The legislation to put in place the basic framework for stakeholder pension schemes is included in the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999. We are continuing to consult on key areas of detail which will be set out in secondary legislation and we expect to publish draft Regulations shortly.

We are reforming the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme through the introduction of the State Second Pension. This will give a dramatic boost to the pensions of low earners, carers and some long-term disabled people. Legislation is included in the Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Bill.

We are also improving the quality of general and personal information on pensions. We are working in partnership with employers and the pensions industry to provide annual combined pension forecasts of current and projected state and private pension rights. A combined statement will give individuals a clearer indication of what sort of retirement income they might expect and enable them to make informed decisions about the level of savings they need to make.

In June 1998, we also published a series of pensions information leaflets. These provide concise and accessible information in plain English about the pensions choices available to individuals. The leaflets relate to decisions individuals need to take at various life stages. The leaflets met the Plain English Campaign Crystal Mark standard and have been awarded the Money Management Council Quality Mark for providing clear and unbiased information on money matters. The leaflets have been promoted through marketing activity. The Financial Services Authority also provide more detailed information on certain financial issues, which complements the Departmental leaflets.