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Pension Schemes: Younger Workers

Volume 609: debated on Monday 9 May 2016

3. What steps he has taken to increase the number of younger workers subscribing to pension schemes. (904879)

16. What steps he has taken to increase the number of younger workers subscribing to pension schemes. (904894)

The Government continue to roll out the programme of automatic enrolment of all eligible workers into workplace pensions. Of those eligible workers, approximately half are under 40, and the largest increase in pension membership in 2015 was among those aged 22 to 29.

I welcome the progress the Minister has outlined. Now that we have announced the lifetime ISA, will he consider allowing people, especially young people, to be auto-enrolled into a lifetime ISA, rather than a pension, to give them a chance to save for a house and have improved financial resilience while they are young?

Will my hon. Friend agree that the new state pension provides clarity for younger workers, who will now know what to expect from their state pension when they reach pensionable age? Will that not have a positive impact on how much they choose to save in a private pension, because, with this clarity, will come understanding and an ability to plan?

I most certainly agree with my hon. Friend. The previous state pension system was extremely complex—it was difficult for people to know how much state pension they would get before they reached the state pension age—whereas the new state pension provides clarity from an early age as to what they can expect. In future, they will know that they can expect over £8,000 a year from the state—a solid foundation upon which to plan their own retirement savings.

Having spent time with charities and high street banks in Kingston, I have been surprised by the low level of financial literacy they report, even among people with secondary and tertiary education. What steps will the Government take to ensure that young people receive the high-quality information and guidance they need, particularly on pension planning, which often feels a long way off to younger people?

I thank my hon. Friend for that very good question. He will be aware that last October the Department and the Pensions Regulator jointly launched a refreshed communications campaign entitled “Don’t Ignore the Workplace Pension”, to help build on and maintain the success of the previous campaign in raising awareness of automatic enrolment. The campaign includes digital and social media advertising, as well as television and radio, and has helped to raise awareness and guide people towards further information.

It was pleasing to hear the Minister say that predictability and clarity were important in pensions. Will he apply those principles to the 2.6 million WASPI women?

We have applied clarity, as I have said at the Dispatch Box on many occasions during the course of many debates.

The younger generation are more likely to be self-employed, and 15% of the workforce are now self-employed, yet only one third are saving into a pension pot. Will the Minister look at the recommendations from the Federation of Small Businesses, which is calling for incentives and support for self-employed pension provision?

The hon. Gentleman raises a good point about a particularly important sector of our economy, and we will certainly look at anything put forward. I emphasise that the Government are keen to ensure that people, including the self-employed, think about and prepare for a better future in terms of their pension.

Pension saving has been undermined by the new lifetime ISA, a new gimmick from the Chancellor, which will promote ISA saving from taxed income over pension saving from pre-tax income—in other words, it is a convenient tool to increase tax receipts today. No employee will be better off saving into an ISA than through workplace pension saving. The Association of British Insurers has forecast that someone saving 4% of an income of £25,000 in an ISA would be £53,000 worse off by age 60. Will the Minister tell the Chancellor to stop his gimmicks, stop this nonsense and get back to pension savings? We need no more con tricks from this Government.

Order. The eloquence might be worthy of Demosthenes, but I think the length would not. Questions must be shorter.

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman takes his usual hostile view to anything, without doing his research. Because of the auto-enrolment scheme pushed forward by this Government, there will be between £14 billion and £16 billion more in pension savings by 2020.