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New UK pensions minister Blunkett to address NAPF

UK – David Blunkett, the new secretary of state for work and pensions, is to address the National Association of Pension Funds’ annual conference later this week.

The NAPF said Blunkett would speak on Thursday, in a slot originally planned for his predecessor Alan Johnson. Blunkett returned to the government in a post-election reshuffle. Johnson had been at the DWP for nine months.

A report in the Financial Times today said Blunkett was already at odds with the powerful chancellor Gordon Brown over pensions policy. Blunkett says there are “no off-limits” in the reform agenda. He told the BBC in an interview: “We need to be able to address quickly, decisively where we are going.”

“This is a particular challenge,” Blunkett said in a statement. “Everyone is aware of the critical nature of the review undertaken by Adair Turner, the former Director General of the CBI. This will clearly be one of the priorities of the new ministerial team, as will be the reform of incapacity benefit announced by my predecessor Alan Johnson.

“I shall also be seeking views and consulting widely on further comprehensive reforms of the welfare state, including entitlement to benefit by those capable of work and who do not have family responsibilities such as childcare.

“However, it is my intention that we should engage in as wide a consultation as possible, both with those affected by government policy and the many groups and individuals who have expertise in the variety of policy areas covered by the Department.

“I will therefore not be making immediate substantial policy announcements until I have had the opportunity to listen, take advice and to reflect on the challenges that face us. Nothing however is off limits in terms of the radical appraisal of the reform agenda.”

Meanwhile, a survey from Capita Hartshead found further evidence that final salary schemes were being closed to new entrants.

And it found that 61% of schemes now outsource pensions administration as part of a company policy to outsource non-core activities.

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