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People should be allowed a gradual downshifting from work into ...
People should be allowed a gradual downshifting from work into

retirement work and pensions secretary Andrew Smith said today.

Speaking at the TUC Pensions Conference in London Mr Smith said:

'Many people resent the sheer cliff edge between work and retirement

- that on Friday they are deemed to be valuable members of the

workforce but the following Monday they are shuffled off into


'We need to give people real opportunities and incentives to enable

people to stay in the work place for longer - where they want to. As

well as getting rid of the perverse incentives to retire even when it

might suit people to carry on working, perhaps part time, for


Mr Smith said that the overall pensions framework is the right one

and the government will continue to build on the changes already


'We are going through a period of change. It's important that we

understand the reasons behind that change, build on what works with

reforms designed for the long-term needs of us all.

'We have to take a hard-headed look at the options in this area. We

need reforms which have the confidence of business as well as trade

unions. 'Changes have to be worthwhile for employees to save,

confident in what they will get in return, and easy for employers to

contribute. We need a framework that builds partnership in pension

provision not a mutual aversion to responsibility.'

He added: 'I applaud partnership between trade unions and business. I

have seen what can be achieved when we have worked together on the

New Deal. If there was ever an area where we needed to build and

strengthen partnership for the country's future, it is on these

crucial questions of ensuring security in retirement for all.'

Mr Smith said: 'Reform should be based on the principles of

- enabling people to make better informed choices in saving for their


- ensuring better information to help people make more meaningful


- providing a range of simpler products

- cutting red tape

- encouraging partnership

- removing perverse incentives by aligning pensions policy with the

employment and active ageing agenda.'

Pensions minister Ian McCartney also stressed to the conference the

importance of partnership when he said: 'The best policies are those

which are based on consensus. I firmly believe the TUC has a great

role to play in helping to shape the future pensions agenda and in

encouraging both employers and employees to invest for that future.

'Our strategy is simple - we want to ensure that all pensioners will

have a decent income in retirement, therefore we have taken action to

help all pensioners while giving priority to the poorest and the

least well off.

'I am personally committed to ensuring that we have a system in place

that adequately protects individuals, that it is transparent, that

has the appropriate level of regulation and incentives to encourage

both employers and employees to contribute to some kind of pension


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