UK - Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has proposed simpler pensions products in a bid to encourage more people to start saving.
Speaking at the National Association of Pension Fund's (NAPF) annual conference in Brighton today, Darling acknowledged that the pendulum had swung too far in favour of regulation and complexity, and that bureaucracy needed to be dumbed down.
I believe that - with the right safeguards, and working with the FSA - we can develop a range of relatively straightforward products, with simple health warnings, that are intended for the mass market. And above all, are much easier for people to buy, he told delegates.
He added: Unless we can make pension product as simple as possible - as well as making it easier for employers to maintain or start a pension scheme - we will not get the level of savings we all want to see.
His comments follow earlier concerns from NAPF chairman Peter Thompson about the overall reduction in saving levels and on the back of opposition criticism.
Darling pointed to the Individual Savings Account (ISA), saying that there were lessons to be learned from their success.
An ISA is not a pension. But we can learn lessons. Because the ISA offers a simple prospect - save money and save tax, he said.
But Darling staunchly defended the recently launched Second State Pension (S2P) -building on SERPS - saying that around 18m people on moderate incomes would lose out if it were to be replaced.
On a separate note, when quizzed about the spate of final salary scheme junking, he laid the blame firmly at the feet of company directors. He said however that the Government would not legislate against controversial accounting standard FRS17, which has been accused of pre-empting defined benefit closures.
Finally, Darling would not be drawn on the increase in retirement age, saying that one of the biggest problems faced by the industry in the UK were employees retiring before 65.
By Madhu Kalia
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