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Workplace Pensions (Automatic Enrolment)

Volume 516: debated on Monday 18 October 2010

16. What progress he has made on his plans to introduce automatic enrolment into workplace pensions in 2012. (17496)

The Government remain committed to the introduction of automatic enrolment. We have now received the conclusions of the review that we set up, and we will make an announcement to the House shortly. I am pleased to confirm that we will go ahead with auto-enrolment according to the previously intended timetable.

Saving for old age is often not viewed as a pressing concern for the young. Given the likely pressures on graduate funding following Lord Browne’s review, it is likely to fall even lower. What steps will my hon. Friend take to encourage a savings culture among the young, and will he please ensure that the future needs of the young are taken into consideration when setting the age limit for automatic enrolment in workplace pensions?

We have asked our review group to look at the age limits for auto-enrolment, but my hon. Friend is right to say that getting young people interested in pensions is a challenge. We think that automatic enrolment will be part of the answer to that because, for the first time, they will have to decide whether to stay in a workplace pension. We also have to ensure that it always pays to save.

The beauty of auto-enrolment, as set out by the Labour Government, was that it would benefit all workers. Will this Government honour that commitment, which will support those on low incomes most of all, as well as temporary and agency workers, who often have the worst pension provision? Or will the Government water down those plans, storing up problems of pensioner poverty for the future?

I welcome the hon. Lady to the Dispatch Box for the first time, and I look forward to working with her to establish cross-party consensus on pension reform wherever possible. She mentioned the actions of the last Labour Government, which I think she will recall were taken on an all-party basis. Our review was not meant to undermine automatic enrolment but simply to make it work, and work effectively—and that we will do.