HC Deb 10 January 2000 vol 342 cc79-80W
Mr. Fitzpatrick

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what progress has been made in developing proposals for stakeholder pensions. [104429]

Mr. Darling

Stakeholder pensions are intended to fill the gap for the many people who can afford to save for their retirement but do not currently have a suitable means of doing so. Following passage of the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999, which sets the framework for stakeholder schemes, and extensive consultation on the detailed arrangements, we have now made decisions in a number of key areas. I am placing in the Library the Government's response to the consultation. The paper, "Stakeholder Pensions—Outcome of the Consultation" is also available in the Vote Office. The main points areSchemes will only be able to charge in one way, on the value of the member's fund, and will not be allowed to charge more than 1 per cent. a year. No extra charges can be made if the member stops paying in, or wishes to transfer to another scheme. Schemes will accept any contributions of £20 or more. Schemes must provide information and explanatory material to potential members, but will not be required to offer individual financial advice within the 1 per cent. charge. Schemes may provide individual advice within the charge limit if they wish, or charge a separate fee. Schemes will be able to set up with a board of trustees, or can be run by an authorised stakeholder scheme manager. Employers will generally be required to give access to a stakeholder scheme from October 2001, unless they already offer a suitable alternative. Employers with fewer than five staff will initially be exempt from this requirement, but the arrangement will be reviewed in three years' time. Employers who arrange group personal pensions and who make a contribution of at least 3 per cent. of earnings will also initially be exempt, subject to review after three years. Existing rebates for Contracted-out Money Purchase Schemes and Appropriate Personal Pension schemes will apply to stakeholder pension schemes.

Specific requirements will be incorporated in secondary legislation, on which we shall consult in draft shortly.