Alistair Darling, Labour's City spokesman, is concerned at the many low-earners - up to 2.4 million according to the accountants Coopers & Lybrand - who may lose out after being persuaded to 'contract out' of the State earnings- related pension scheme and into a personal pension.
Mr Darling said: 'In the late 1980s, the Government actively persuaded people that private pensions were usually better than occupational pensions or Serps. For many people that may be true, but for many more it may be not. The Government stands indicted because it did nothing to put in place an effective regulatory system.'
Lautro, the life insurance regulator, is dismissive of the higher estimates of those who have suffered by contracting out of Serps. It said existing estimates were based on flawed data. Much criticism ignored the planned diminution of the value of Serps.
Pat Wynne, a partner with Coopers & Lybrand, said most problems would stem from April 1993, when the Government substantially reduced the rebate and incentive payments it makes to personal pensions for those leaving Serps.