Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Pension plan accelerated: Osborne

The single-tier pension will be introduced in 2016, a year earlier than previously planned

The Government will speed up the introduction of a new, simple state pension system and a cap on the cost of social care, Chancellor George Osborne has announced.

The single-tier pension will be introduced in 2016, a year earlier than previously planned, and would be a "huge boost" for people who want to save for their retirement.

The cap on social care costs, originally planned to be set at £75,000 and introduced in 2017, will now also be introduced in 2016 at a level of £72,000.

Mr Osborne told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show it would mean people were "protected from the rather random costs of getting a disease late in life and seeing your home sold to pay for those care costs".

He said the cap, as recommended by the Dilnot Commission, would mean "you have to pay £72,000 of care costs but after that, for the rest of your life, those care costs will be covered by the state".

The single-tier pension is set to be worth around £144 a week.

Ahead of Wednesday's Budget, Mr Osborne said that the "generous" pension would be "a huge boost for people who want to save for their retirement".

"That is another example of how this Government is helping people who want to save, people who want to leave something to their children like their home, people who want to get on in life, people who do the right thing. Those two decisions are going to be enormously helpful."

Joanne Segars, chief executive of the National Association of Pension Funds, questioned whether the Government would be able to implement the changes under the new timetable. She said: "We are squarely in favour of these vital reforms but the Government must ensure that the implementation of these changes is workable for pension funds. This is a very tight timeframe and we have to wonder if it can be delivered. If the Government gets it wrong then this runs the risk of sparking a fresh round of final salary pension closures in the private sector.

"Businesses who get caught on the wrong side of these changes will lose a significant rebate from the end of contracting out, and they will question whether they want to continue running these pensions. It is essential to give pension funds the flexibility and time to adapt and make the changes. We have waited many years for these reforms. An overhaul of the state pension is long overdue and this simpler, fairer system helps set a clear foundation on which people can build their own savings. It would be a shame if big mistakes were made in a rush to implement the changes."

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