UK - Peter Thompson, chairman of the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF), has called on Chancellor Gordon Brown to use this week's budget to restore confidence in the UK pensions system.
Despite the need to save more for a longer retirement, there is plenty of evidence that companies and individuals are actually reducing the amount they put into pension saving, Thompson said.
On Wednesday the Chancellor has a unique opportunity to restore confidence in the pension system. Pensions have been in the news a lot in recent months so it is a timely opportunity for the Chancellor to address these issues.
According to the NAPF, individuals and schemes are now saving less due to a combination of cost and excessive bureaucracy. To address these problems, the NAPF would like Brown to abolish stamp duty on share transactions and the introduction of flexible retirement arrangements.
Other NAPF suggestions include giving retirement saving what it calls a more favourable tax treatment than short term saving. The group also wants the Chancellor to reaffirm the government's commitment to a radical simplification of the regulatory burden on pension plan sponsors.
It is clear that cost and complexity are two of the main issues facing those employers who voluntarily operate occupational pension schemes for their workforces, Thompson said.
Without a clear and firm commitment to addressing these issues, we believe the present decline in the overall level of pension saving will continue. We call on the Chancellor to recognise publicly the difficulties which employers are facing and to address these in his speech on Wednesday.
Aside from being an extra cost to pension schemes, the NAPF views stamp duty as an additional threat to the health of the economy. The group claims that the tax locks investors into existing holdings, at the expense of new or better opportunities elsewhere.
In today's increasing global capital markets, an extra tax can be particularly harmful by driving transactions abroad, according to the NAPF.
This could have serious consequences for the City, as related economic activities - money marketing, investment management and professional advice - may be driven abroad.
By Geoffrey Ho
This week's edition of Professional Pensions is out now.
Ben Gunnee reflects on 2018 and talks about the Fiduciary Management trends to keep an eye on in 2019
Lloyds Banking Group secured 630,000 new pension customers last year, according to its 2018 annual results.
Guy Opperman has rejected calls to speed up changes to auto-enrolment (AE) despite increasing pressure to boost contribution rates and overall savings pots.