The UK's Department of Social Security has received over 1,000 responses to its pensions review by its October 31 deadline.
The government believes it can reach consensus on the basis of the submissions with Pensions Minister John Denham expressing confidence that there is a broad agreement on the problems and the way forward".
The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF), the Association of Consulting Actuaries (ACA), employer and union representatives and major consultancies have responded.
The NAPF submission, while agreeing with areas of government thinking, goes further, calling for an overhaul of pensions taxation and regulation. Legislation should introduce "a new single law to allow most existing Social Security and Inland Revenue rules to be swept away creating a simplified regulatory regime and a level playing field between all forms of pension provision". Under its 'National Pensions Framework' it would be compulsory for employers and employees to pay a total of 10% of earnings into an occupational scheme or an alternative arrangement. Companies could make scheme membership a condition of employment.
It also calls for re-targeting of the state pension to low lifetime earners and advocates the abolition of the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS).
The ACA submission emphasises the "desperate need for stability" in occupational provision calling for an easing of regulation.
For personal providers it supports the set up of kite-marked products with transparent, readily comparable charging. Contracting-out of Serps would only be possible into these products. The state pension should be retained based on residency and not on ability to pay contributions.
Consultants Towers Perrin's submission makes a case for a level playing field betwe en final salary and money purchase, saying that employers may mistakenly move to the latter because of the regulatory burden.
Sedgwick Noble Lowndes calls for the abolition of Serps and contracting-out and its replacement with a simplified stakeholder pension extending pensions to the self-employed, part-timers and unemployed on a "straight forward money purchase basis". The existing occupational system should not be undermined.
Mercers, describing its approach as pragmatic, says that a state pension linked to earnings during employment and prices after retirement should compensate in years when earnings fall below £10,000. Above this stakeholder pensions for those outside occupational schemes should be compulsory and all private pensions should either require 10% of salary as a contribution in DC schemes or for DB a new reference test scheme.
Watson Wyatt wants a simplification of the tax regime, retention of the state pension, a compulsory funded tier of benefit, and for the first and second tiers to be designed to achieve a basic standard of living to be known as the Threshold pension.
A Green paper is expected to be published in spring. John Lappin"