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“Reactionary” Pickering remarks under attack

UK - Alan Pickering, the former chairman of the European Federation for Retirement Provision and the National Association of Pension Funds, has come under attack from a pensioner group for "reactionary" comments about auto-enrolment.

Roger Turner, the general secretary of the National Federation of Royal Mail & BT Pensioners, hit back at Pickering's comment that the government's personal accounts proposal was "monstrous".

Watson Wyatt partner Pickering had been quoted as saying that no sane politician "would go within a million miles of the scheme".

Turner said: "I have a great deal of respect for Mr Pickering. His 2002 independent report … contained ideas for deregulating the pension industry that I welcomed.

"But his attack on auto-enrolment seems part of a reactionary campaign by some employers to sink one of the few genuinely progressive measures in the White Paper."

Pickering has in the past said the personal accounts idea, also known as the National Pension Savings Scheme, could do "lethal damage to the existing fabric of occupational and personal pension arrangements". The NPSS was one of the key proposals of the Pension Commission.

Writing in the Federation's newsletter, Turner disagrees, saying: "Auto-enrolment in a simple, basic pension scheme is an essential element in any long-term strategy to avert a future pensions crisis."

Pension reform minister James Purnell told the newsletter that the more details on the NPSS idea would be finalised and released later this year, adding that the views of industry and trade unions would "certainly be taken into account".

"Regardless of exactly how personal accounts are arranged, we will have a high-quality scheme that gives workers the opportunity to boost their future retirement income," Purnell says.

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