Oral Parliamentary Question to the Department for Work and Pensions

- Monday, 11th October 2004

 

10. Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con): What assessment he has made of the impact of means-testing on people‘s willingness to save for pensions. [190400]

The Minister for Pensions (Malcolm Wicks): Eligibility for income-related benefits is one of many factors which may influence willingness to save. The issue of incentives, and the role of taxes and benefits within it, is a complex one. We have established the independent Pensions Commission, which will be publishing its interim report tomorrow, providing a thorough analysis of the UK pensions system, including a review of long-term savings. Meanwhile, we have already taken action to tackle poverty and reward savings for today‘s pensioners through pension credit.


Mr. Lilley: May I, through the Minister, congratulate the Secretary of State on taking on one of the most important jobs in government, and wish him well?

The Minister will know that many financial advisers are worried that they will be guilty of mis-selling if they advise people on average or below average earnings to save, because their savings will not just bear the pensions tax, but result in their losing 40p in every pound of extra pension that they get through the loss of means-tested benefits? Will he, either now or in writing subsequently, give me an unequivocal assurance that no financial adviser who advises people to save will be guilty of mis-selling if those people lose means-tested benefits?


Malcolm Wicks: I am not responsible for financial advisers, and I am very grateful that that is the case. As a previous Secretary of State for Social Security, the right hon. Gentleman presided over a system that knocked off any savings, pound for pound, against income support. We are the Administration who recognise the importance of savings and have introduced a savings credit. Moreover, under income support in those days, someone was expected to live on ?69 a week. The minimum income for a single person is now ?105 a week. I am proud of our record.

 

 

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