UK – The issue of whether people should be forced to save for their pensions seems to be back on the political agenda following remarks from new pensions secretary David Blunkett.

"I've ruled nothing out," he told BBC radio. "I haven't ruled out the issue of some means of ensuring people do save. We have got to look at the point when people start saving for themselves.” Blunkett, who took on the pensions brief last week, was set to make a speech to the National Association of Pension Funds today.

He told the BBC: "The issue is not tax versus saving, (or) the question of how long people work. It's what people are prepared to do for themselves, and how we as a government support, enable and facilitate them doing it for themselves."

Opposition pensions spokesman Malcolm Rifkind told the same programme: “We have to find ways of creating an incentive for people to save and the government must set an example by creating these incentives.”

Digby Jones, director general of the Confederation of British Employers, said: “Compulsion is not the answer, it would be viewed by both employers and employees alike as yet another stealth tax."

Rifkind was also critical of Blunkett’s remarks about what he termed the government’s £5bn (€7.3bn) annual “raid” on pension funds stemming from the abolition of tax relief on equity dividends.

He said: “The £5bn confiscation is indeed as serious for future pensioners, if not more so, than the pensions mis-selling scandal. Where he is wrong is that the £5bn confiscation is not a thing of the past.”