Nationwide calls for government aid on pension deficit

11 October 2004
The independent Pensions Commission is to warn of a massive shortfall in pensions savings in the UK, amounting to a hole of £57 billion in savings.

And Nationwide is calling on the government to make savings easier for those who are trying to save for their retirement.

"We would like to see the Government positively encouraging and incentivising people to save, and giving people more certainty that what they put in they will get out, with interest," said Jim Willens, Nationwide's retail operations director.

The commission's report was disclosed two days ahead of scheduled publication by The Observer newspaper on Sunday.

The commission's head, former director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Adair Turner, is set to urge direct countermeasures, though his final recommendations are not due until August 2005.

Among proposed strategies are to encourage people to work for longer, reform of the government's pensions system or simply call for workers to save more.

It was noted that the current level of contributions to pensions schemes, at less than six per cent of GDP, was more than half that in comparable European countries.

In response to news of the report, Brendan Barber, the general secretary of the TUC, warned that it would "confirm that Britain is heading for a major pensions crisis, which may be even worse than previously thought".

The government is to face stern criticism from opposition parties over the shortfall, which has been hidden by a string of statistical errors in previous estimates.

The Guardian newspaper said on Monday that Tony Blair was preparing to announce that he would forestall action on pensions until the full report from the commission in 2005.
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