UK - The government today published a discussion paper examining proposed changes to pension tax relief and said to expect a decision on the matter by autumn.

The paper proposed a flat-rate annual allowance of £30,000-45,000 for pension savings, welcomed by the Association of British Insurers, which said the previous government's more complex changes were a "disincentive to savers".

Helen White, acting director of life and savings at the insurance umbrella group, did see some problems with the current proposals, however. 

"The suggested lower limit of £30,000 is unworkably low and would do nothing to encourage saving for those people already disillusioned with changes to pension tax relief," she said, adding that any changes "must, above all else, encourage more people to save".

Consultancy Lane Clark & Peacock said the news that a decision would be reached in September was "disappointing", with Mark Jackson, a partner at the firm, saying the window for implementing any changes was getting very small.

The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) said the simpler approach would encourage high earners to stay in their workplace pension schemes, protecting the pensions of all scheme members.

Joanne Segars, the NAPF's chief executive, added: "Setting the annual allowance at £40k, as the paper discusses, could be workable, but much depends on other variables that are yet to be confirmed."

However, she said the matter of taking past payments to defined benefit schemes into account could "drag" members with lower earnings in final salary pensions into the net.