UK – The National Association of Pension Funds has called for an independent standing commission on pensions.

“A new, independent Standing Commission on Pensions should be appointed to advise ministers on the way forward for UK pensions,” the NAPF said. The body would take its cue from the Bank of England, independent since 1997.

The new commission would be required to report to the government every three years on the impact of economic, demographic and social changes on Britain’s pensions system, and to advise ministers on the measures necessary to maintain the UK pension system in the long term.

"The call for independent commission makes sense," said Richard Jones, a principal at consultants Punter Southall. Pensions are such a long term issue that you don't want it being used as a political football with the government trying to increase the role of the state and the Tories trying to reduce the role of the state."

The NAPF has published a draft constitution and terms of reference for such a body. NAPF chief executive Christine Farnish said: “For years, successive governments have introduced new pension rules with the best of intentions, but not with the best of results.

“One of the reasons our pensions system is in such poor health is that decisions have too often been taken without the benefit of independent advice aimed at ensuring long term continuity and sustainability.

“An independent Pensions Standing Commission would provide such advice, based on the depth of understanding and knowledge of its members.

“The value of an independent voice in facilitating politically important decisions, as the Bank of England has shown, and a Pensions Standing Commission could bring similar qualities of independence and expertise to the equally important process of pensions decision making.

“Such a body could provide the independent basis on which to base such critical decisions as increasing the state pension age, and on which to build an ongoing consensual approach to pensions.

“With an authoritative and independent Commission in place, successive governments would be better placed to make the reforms needed to ensure a healthy and sustainable long term future for UK pensions into the 21st century.”