Plans for flat-rate pension to be unveiled

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DETAILS of a radical shake-up of the state pension, which will introduce a single flat rate from 2017, are due to be unveiled by the coalition tomorrow.

The flat rate, equivalent to around £144 in today’s money, is set to be introduced for new pensioners in a bid to simplify the system.

About six million workers will also face higher national insurance payments in future as the practice of “contracting out” the state second pension to employers is ended.

Those affected are expected to include more than a million private sector staff enrolled in final salary schemes and an estimated five million public sector workers.

However, it is not clear how many will lose out overall as they are likely to receive a higher state pension than before.

Funds and firms could also alter their schemes and contribution levels to take account of the shift.

Some groups – such as women who have taken career breaks to have children and the self-employed – will be clear winners.

The Department for Work and Pensions confirmed that the white paper is being published tomorrow as part of wider welfare reforms that affect the whole of the UK.

Iain Duncan Smith and his Liberal Democrat deputy at the department, Steve Webb, are believed to have overcome Treasury concerns to get final sign-off for the policy.

Malcolm McLean, a consultant with pensions expert Barnett Waddingham, said: “The concept of a single, simpler-to-understand state pension pitched at a level that lifts as many people as possible off means testing and encourages them to save privately to give themselves a better standard of living in their later years is very desirable, if not essential, in a society such as ours with an ageing population.”

But he warned: “The task of bringing together the various diverse components that currently collectively make up state pension provision was never going to be easy and it is inevitable that there will be some losers as well as winners in the process of change.”

Shadow pensions minister Gregg McClymont said the coalition had originally suggested the reforms would be introduced in 2016. “The chaos surrounding the government’s relaunch gets worse and worse.

“These pensions proposals are just half a plan, yet they are still delayed by a year,” 
he said.