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Volume 552: debated on Monday 5 November 2012

18. What steps his Department is taking to ensure that older workers with little private pension provision are not disadvantaged by the introduction of auto-enrolment. (126315)

Our research shows that even under the current rules 99% of savers will get back at least as much as they put in under auto-enrolment, and around 70% will get back twice as much. In addition, our state pension reforms will support planning and saving for retirement by delivering a simpler, single, flat-rate pension set above the basic level of the means test.

I accept that those were the calculations made in 2010 as part of the auto-enrolment review, but since that time we have seen investment returns fall so much that the Financial Services Authority is ordering the industry to downscale its forecasts and we have also seen annuity rates fall. Have the Government recalculated their figures to take account of that?

The short answer to the hon. Gentleman’s question is no. However, one important point I would raise is that if someone only builds up a very small pension pot, they have a legal right to take it, in most circumstances, as a cash lump sum with a quarter tax-free. Even someone later in life can get an employer contribution tax relief—a lump sum taken with a tax-free contribution. That will be attractive, even in later life.