UK – The government’s understanding of how to manage pensions is on a par with that of trustees and it too needs education, the outgoing chairman of the National Association of Pension Fund said today.

Terry Faulkner told IPE on the sidelines of the NAPF’s annual conference in Manchester: “The government, particularly though the Pensions Act is trying to raise awareness of trustees in the business that they do, but actually if you look back it made the same mistakes because it was being given the same advice and the same interpretation as trustees.”

He pointed out that local authorities have also funding deficits because the government and the trustees have acted the same way.

“The point is if it is insisting that trustees get their act together then maybe government should do the same on the same basis, because they have made the same mistakes in the past.”

His comments followed a remark by Pension Commission member Jeannie Drake, who highlighted the government’s strategic mistakes in the past 30 years, which have led to contribution holidays and the uneven spread of tax credit.

Drake called for a consensus and spoke against a “whose-fault-is-it?” mentality.

She joked that if assessing the responsibility for the pension crisis were a murder investigation, it would resemble the plot of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ – the Agatha Christie whodunit with numerous suspects.

Drake was part of a panel featuring Anthony Thompson of the Confederation of British Industry and Laurie Edmans of the Association of British Insurers.

Thompson observed that employers still care about employees pensions and try to find ways to keep them.

Edmans observed he wanted to see the individuals taking more charge of pensions.