Pensions crippled by choice

27 May 2004
The general secretary of the TUC has warned that too much pensions choice is preventing people from saving as they become frightened of making the wrong decision.

Brendan Barber believes that "people are paralysed by choice" and that employees are not equipped to step into the pensions void left as employers and Government retreat from providing retirement security.

Addressing the first major conference of the TUC's pension trustee network, Mr Barber argued that a three-way partnership is needed to increase pension savings.

Under such a scheme, the Government would provide a secure state pension with employers and employees contributing on top of that.

Such a system would be both "fair and simple enough to persuade people to save", he said.

"Employees cannot take all the strain on their own. They see employers in retreat. They face huge demands on their earnings already as property prices soar and student debts grow," Mr Barber argued.

"Simplification has been an important pensions theme in recent months. But they do not look much simpler yet to the average employee."

He concluded: "I have no problem with making pensions easier for employers to set up and run. Unions have backed the Pensions Bill for this reason. But we would be kidding ourselves if we could yet claim that the average employee has much of a clue."