Pensions help on offer, says Lilley

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The Independent Online

Public Policy Editor

Peter Lilley, the Secretary of State for Social Security, yesterday offered small employers extra help to develop group personal pension schemes.

Small companies and young companies are the least likely to provide occupational schemes, he said, delivering the inaugural lecture for Politeia, a new right-of-centre think-tank. Yet they account for an increasing proportion of the workforce.

The Government had already made clear that employers which set up a pension scheme, into which employees would contribute, would not be held liable under the Financial Services Act for advice they gave to employees. And he was considering what further steps could be taken to encourage the growth of such schemes further.

He warned Labour that its ideas for alternatives to Serps would be fought hard. A guaranteed minimum pension - pitched above the basic state pension and probably awarded after an annual income-tax-like declaration of earnings - would represent "a substantial extension of means-testing."

He added that the Government's consultation paper on long-term care would now be published before Easter.

Under these, those who make specific provision for a given amount of care would be entitled to protect a similar amount of their assets against means-testing if it turned out they needed more care.