UK – The Association of Consulting Actuaries (ACA) has welcomed many of the proposals put forward by the UK government in its Green Paper.

In particular, the association says it supports the Inland Revenue’s proposals to drastically reduce the number of pension regimes from eight to just one.

Gordon Pollock, ACA chairman, also welcomed government moves in the area of tax simplification:
"While we have yet to consider the detail of the proposals, we would hope that they will significantly reduce the tax rules for pension schemes and their members."

Pollock does not believe however that some of the proposals go far enough.
On the issue of occupational pensions, the ACA says it has seen a sharp fall in membership and provision. "Indeed, some of the proposals may accelerate the move away from adequate employer pension provision", adds Pollock.

He also sees a missed opportunity by the government on the issue of addressing demographic pressures with its failure to propose a phased increase of the state retirement age.
"We are also disappointed that the opportunity to simplify the complex state pension structure, which few members of the public understand, seems not to be a priority", Pollock comments.

The ACA is encouraged, however, by the government’s stated commitment to wide consultations. "It is to be hoped the consultation exercise is genuine and the government can be persuaded to a more radical agenda".

London law firm Thomas Eggar in its response to the Green Paper took the view that the government had missed an opportunity for reform. "By gazing into the distant future, but not the critical next few years, the government has failed to take effective action on pension reforms," says Graham Chrystie, pensions partner at the law firm Disappointingly, he added, the paper has "little that is new or unexpected".

He sees the main failings as largely due to the lack of solid guarantees to those saving and making provision throughout their working lives. "Only a government ultimate guarantee will satisfy the public, so that for whatever reason their pension promise is not met, then the government will compensate or at least assure a fair proportion of your investment so that you can survive in retirement", says Chrystie.