UK - A central pensions registry (CPR) would solve a number of problems associated with small pension pots and portability in the UK, employee benefits provider B&CE has claimed.

Last week, UK pensions minister Steve Webb announced, among other things, the prohibition of short-service refunds - whereby contributions are refunded if a member leaves a company within two years.

But B&CE said all the solutions Webb proposed were likely to face "complex industry and regulatory issues" and called for the launch of a central pensions registry.

Jamie Fiveash, director of customer solutions, told IPE: "We are fully in support of the changes announced by Steve Webb. But our concern is essentially focused on how realistic some proposed measures could be implemented within a reasonable timeframe. The CPR is the quickest approach."

According to B&CE, the registry - managed by the Department for Work and Pensions or the Pensions Regulator - would be funded by scheme providers through a levy and replace the tracing pension system currently used.

Fiveash said: "We have been lobbying for years for a solution to the automatic transfer of small pots and believe a 'Pot for Life' is the right of every consumer.

"The formation of a CPR will provide accurate access to all pension entitlement forecasts, including state entitlements in one place, and will go a long way to resolving this ongoing and growing issue."

Unlike the current tracing pension system, which only allows pension schemes to register, the new system would enable each pension fund to hold details of each individual member.

"That way, members will know what pension they can expect when they reach their retirement age," Fiveash said.

B&CE said all consumers would have access to the centralised register, providing a summary of accumulated pension provision to date in a single, standardised format. 

It also argued that consumers - rather than their employers - should be given the chance to manage their own savings, giving them greater control over fees, investment returns and product flexibility, among other things.

Once the CPR was fully in place, combined pension statements could be a reality within two years, it predicted.