UK - The Conservative Party has accused the government of abdicating responsibility for final salary scheme closures.
The attack follows studies by the NAPF and Aon Consulting which highlight the dramatic increase in final salary scheme closures in the past year.
The NAPF annual survey found that 84 final salary schemes had been closed to new staff in the past year – up from only 46 in 2001.And Aon also discovered that 200 schemes in the manufacturing sector had been shut to new members since 1998, of which 55 closed this year.
Tory work and pensions spokesman Oliver Heald said: “These surveys show that the rate at which companies are closing their schemes has increased eight–fold since we were in government. Despite Tony Blair’s attempts to convince the House of Commons otherwise, pensions are in crisis and this is just one more piece of evidence.
“Not only that, but Blair claimed that the reason for closures was ‘economic slowdown’, but the Engineering Employers’ Federation are blaming the £25bn pensions tax, bureaucratic regulation and the decline in the market.
“Labour’s pensions policies have fuelled the crisis. This is a rebuff for the prime minister, who is trying to avoid blame.”
Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesman Steve Webb supported the Tory attack on the government.
He said: “Every final salary pension scheme that closes means more people heading for an insecure retirement.”
Aon said employers blamed the closures on rising costs of meeting the minimum funding requirement and the removal of Advance Corporation Tax.
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