NAPF: Blunkett calls for consensus
UK – David Blunkett, the new secretary of state for work and pensions, has called for cross-party and popular consensus to find a long-term solution to the pension crisis.
Blunkett, who was appointed to the cabinet position last week, told the annual conference of the National Association of Pension Funds: “We are in this together. It is not between the industry and the government."
He stressed the importance of getting the message across and find a common long lasting solution. "I am prepared to do that if my political opponents are prepared as well," he told delegates.
As well as working in the political arena, Blunkett said he would communicate with the country by reaching out to people and win confidence.
He also said that there would be a "joint seminar" with Pension Commission chairman Adair Turner in June to give a "sense of the direction we are going".
This would give people a perception of the progress made before the Pension Commission’s final report, due later in the year. The report should not come "as something out of the blue", he said.
"I do not have the answers yet," he said joking that it seemed a "bed of nails" had followed him throughout his cabinet career.
The new secretary also spoke in favour of flexible pension-working schedules, whereby people could chose to work beyond retirement age while still being paid part of their corporate pensions.
Blunkett also made comments about the new Pension Protection Fund. "We do not want in the future to need the PPF, but we have got it now and we will make it work."
Blunkett also told the conference that he wanted to change the current perception of the state pension from safety net to "escalator or trampoline, so that people can jump out of dependence".