UK – Pensions minister Malcolm Wicks has said that companies must address problems with their pension arrangements themselves.

“It’s up to the schemes themselves, the companies themselves to address the problems,” Wicks said in a TV interview. He was responding to a Channel 4 news report about pension deficits in large UK companies.

And he also told Channel 4 news that the planned Pension Protection Fund was “a major social policy innovation”.

Meanwhile, the opposition Conservative party has launched a consultation on a lifetime savings account proposal which it unveiled today. Work and pensions shadow minister David Willetts said the idea – dubbed LiSA - proposes cash matching, not traditional tax incentives – and that it would not be means-tested.

“Instead of traditional tax relief, it uses cash matching. Each month, as you put money into your Lifetime Savings Account, the Government will put money in too. It’s like what you see at the supermarket: Buy One, Get One Free.”

He was not able to say how much the scheme would cost, and added it was not mean to replace occupational pensions. “We’re not proposing to change the tax regime for pensions,” he told a briefing.

He added: “It’s not beyond the wit of man to fold this into some form of defined contribution scheme.” He acknowledged integrating it with a defined benefit arrangement might be “tricky”.

“We have an agenda for pensions – this augments that, not undermines it.” The launch came as a survey by Accenture HR Services found that “nearly half” of people in the UK are not saving for their retirement.

The firm surveyed more than 1,000 adults – and found that 46% of respondents have made no pension provision beyond the state pension.