James Daley: Blair now the key to pension reform

Importantly, the end of the Commission's three-year inquiry, will finally put the onus back on the Government to set about introducing a necessary programme of radical reform - robbing it of its long-standing excuse that it cannot do anything until it's seen what Turner has to say.

The fear amongst those of us who have followed this process over the past few years is that with the Treasury already right up against its public spending limits, Turner's recommendations will be kicked into the long grass.

Pensions reform will inevitably be costly, complex, and potentially unpopular amongst certain sections of the electorate - perhaps removing generous tax relief from higher earners, or forcing people to save more of their salary each month.

No surprise then that Gordon Brown is reluctant to embark on such a major project on the eve of succeeding to the prime minister's post.

But the one thing, however, that may well yet have the power to ensure pensions reform remains at the top of the agenda over the coming months, is the Chancellor's ongoing power struggle with Tony Blair.

With Blair now seemingly determined not only to hang on to the top job for as long as possible, but also to push on with a string of radical policy initiatives before he goes, pensions may well find itself jacked up the agenda.

Blair does not often get involved directly in the pensions debate, but at the Labour Party conference on Tuesday, his keynote speech included the promise that reform of the creaking state pension system would begin in the new year. Furthermore, he also hinted at a redesign of the private pension market - creating a system which would provide "a simple, easy way for people to save and to reap the rewards of their savings".

Meanwhile, David Blunkett, the work and pensions secretary - who has until now threatened to be a hindrance to reform due to his determination to make a quick and short-term mark on the debate - appears to have finally calmed down.

In his own speech at the conference, Blunkett's only mention of pensions reform was to talk about the scandal of the prejudice towards women in the current system, and his hope that Turner would address this.

This was certainly a change in tune to a speech he gave only weeks earlier, where he seemed to boast that he was planning to clear up the womens' pensions mess single-handedly, and would be publishing his own report ahead of Turner.

As Turner well knows, there are no easy answers to solving the current problems in the pensions system and the only solutions likely to last are ones which involve a complete overhaul of where we are today.

>The following are needed: a higher flat rate basic state pension, which keeps pensioners out of poverty and is fair to both men and women; a sensible secondary scheme that is simple to understand and provides decent incentives for people to save; an educational programme that helps people understand the link between what they save and invest now, and what they will get back in retirement.

These must be part of the new system andcannot be achieved by tinkering with the current framework. For the first time in a long while, I'm cautiously optimistic that such reform is just around the corner.

Independent Partners: 10 top tips for retirement. Get your free guide here

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning: The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Sport
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier leaguePlus updates from Everton vs Palace
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleFirst memoir extracts show she 'felt pressured' into going out with the Sex Pistols manager
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Sport
Lewis Hamilton in action during the Singapore Grand Prix
Formula OneNico Rosberg retires after 14 laps
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
News
peopleActress tells men: 'It's your issue too'
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

    £400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

    Market Risk & Control Manager

    Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

    SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

    £320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

    Head of Audit

    To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam