Skip to main content

Personal Accounts

Volume 497: debated on Monday 19 October 2009

16. What recent progress has been made on the introduction of personal accounts; and if she will make a statement. (293512)

Eighty-six per cent. of smaller employers have said that they will review their pension arrangements ahead of the introduction of personal accounts. Of those, 41 per cent. have said that they will consider closing down their existing schemes as a result. Is not the Minister worried that this is a levelling down?

The real issue is that two thirds of people who work in the private sector have no opportunity of a workplace pension at all. That is why Members on both sides of the House agreed to introduce automatic enrolment in the 2008 legislation on pensions. The hon. Gentleman seems to be arguing, much as the Conservative party argued when we introduced the minimum wage, that if there is a minimum everybody reduces their arrangements to that minimum. It has not happened with the minimum wage, and I do not believe that it will happen with pensions.

Will the Minister ensure that employers contribute their share to the personal accounts of their employees and do not, under false pretences, get their employees to opt out when it is not appropriate?

We will design the information for employers and employees to ensure that we make the case positively for those who are automatically enrolled to stay in personal accounts. It is important that they contribute to pension saving to build the second tier of pensions on top of the improvements to the basic state pension that we are introducing next year, which will make it more universal, fairer and more generous.