UK – The Government is to launch a completely new dedicated pensions department within the department for work and pensions, Ian McCartney, pensions minister announced at the NAPF’s autumn conference in London today.

The new organisation, called the Pension Service, will be introduced from April next year, with a view to being fully operational across the UK by the end of 2003. Pensions services are currently carried out in benefits offices around the country. The new scheme will centralise and modernise the pensions services in dedicated pensions centres. The service will include people already claiming a pension and those planning their retirement provision.

It will have sole responsibility within the government for pensions issues, including :
•policy development and implementation
•consultation and implementation of pensions reform and legislation
•’front line’ services

Elsewhere, McCartney told the conference that the government was also committed to simplifying the pensions industry. “The current simplification review is not just a tinkering exercise, since the current regulatory framework is excessive, over-complex and over-burdensome and does no-one any good – least of all the man or woman on the street who can be put off taking out a pension altogether.”

McCartney also emphasised the need to educate people about stakeholder and other pensions vehicles. “It is crucial that we provide better information. People need to see in black and white just how much they may or may not have in retirement, so that if appropriate, decisions to secure additional pensions are made in good time.”