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UK roundup: DWP, PPF, UK Coal

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A report from the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) showed that almost 12m people were still at risk of not saving enough for retirement, despite government interventions to increase pensions savings.

The government said its reforms, namely auto-enrolment, had made significant differences in retirement savings for lower earnings.

However, middle to higher earners are at risk for an inadequate retirement, it said.

While 12m people are saving too little, some 6m are 80% of the way to an adequate income.

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Only 0.9m are less than 50% on track.

Some 8.8m at risk of under-saving earn between £22,700 and £52,000 (€28,480-65,240) on annual basis, and are classed in the middle to high earnings bands.

The government also said higher-income groups could benefit from increasing contribution rates to workplace pensions, but said more work was needed to find the perfect balance between contribution rates being high enough to provide adequacy, but not too high to discourage pension saving entirely.

It said reforms to the state pension and auto-enrolment had reduced the number of people under saving by around 1m.

Pensions minister Steve Webb said the state safety net would now allow many to maintain a comfortable retirement.

“This new research shows that, by saving just a little more, a huge number of working people could make their future retirement so much more comfortable,” he added.

In other news, the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) has taken over the 75.1% ownership of Harworth Estates Property Group previously held by the trustees of the industry-wide mining pension scheme, after its transfer into the lifeboat fund.

The fund also confirmed it had taken control of other assets from the pension fund, which entered the PPF in July last year.

The privatised entity of British Coal, UK Coal, saw its two pension schemes enter the PPF after the company restructured to avoid liquidation.

The schemes were given a controlling stake in the property company formed as UK Coal was split into two separate mining and property companies, by then parent Coalfield Resources.

As part of the deal, the PPF took an interest in the restructured UK Coal with debt instruments.

CFO of the PPF, Andrew McKinnon, said: “We consider Harworth Estates to be a valuable asset, and we welcome the ongoing discussions with Coalfield Resources to maximise the value in this business for shareholders.”

Coalfield Resources retains ownership of the remainder of Harwarth.

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