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BeeHive  >  BeeLines  >  Is this the most important BeeLine ever?

Is this the most important BeeLine ever?

I donít know. It could be. I think itís pretty important, anyway. You may remember Iíve written a number of BeeLines over the last month or so regarding the proposed National Pension Savings Scheme (the NPSS). If youíve read those BeeLines youíll know Iím not much of a fan of the idea. In fact, I have some very strong reservations about pensions being sold without advice while they remain unsuitable investments for millions of people in the UK workforce because of the problems created by means-testing. Youíll also know Iím very concerned that the Government guys are rushing headlong into building yet another product and price based solution to a problem that requires more fundamental changes in approach and thinking at the top and more subtlety of approach at the coalface by those drafting the rules that govern the rest of us.

I would much rather see the Government concentrate its efforts and resources on making pensions suitable for all, rather than simply making them cheaper and therefore much more dangerous for investors and distributors.

The current national fad, though, as far as pensions are concerned is that they should above all else be cheap. Price is king, even though something that is cheap and unsuitable is still unsuitable.

In my view unless we can reach the position where every pound saved in a pension makes savers at least one pound better off than non-savers, then it remains too dangerous to assume suitability and distribute pensions carelessly.

I know you know I think this, Iíve written about these issues enough already, but the reason Iím mentioning it here is that the Government is now inviting us all to have our say in its so-called National Pensions Debate. This is something that is being conducted partly online and is to gauge the views of the British public on pension issues in the run-up to the publication of the pensions White Paper weíre promised for the Spring.

A few months ago the Government put up a website for us to air our views, but it was fairly basic. Not much use, in my opinion. The website and questions have been completely revised now and replaced with a detailed nine-page questionnaire which is much more useful.

I have just spent ten minutes or so on the website putting my views across on the NPSS and other pension issues raised and it occurred to me that you might want to do the same. I think it would be very useful all round if tens of thousands of people who understand and care about pensions were to make their views†known to Government in this way. Those of you who visit the BeeHive regularly†must be interested in pensions - I mean itís just got to be that hasnít it? All I ever write about is pensions - itís what the site is all about. For people with such a continuing interest in pension developments to enter into the national debate just must be the right thing to do. If you have the time Iíd like to hope youíd all log-in and put your views to the Government before they put together what is potentially the most significant pension legislation weíve ever seen.

Obviously itís up to you whether you think itís worth doing or not, but if you want to get involved you can do so by clicking on the following link:

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/debate/consult/

On that point, I guess itís worth mentioning that I know many of you get the BeeLines in paper form as theyíre only accessed at one central point in your organisations and circulated around after theyíve been printed out. A number of people have told me thatís the way it is where they work and I understand that. The trouble with that is it means when you press the link on the paper copy nothing happens; you donít get transported across the internet to the right page. Or any page. It doesnít work like that. If thatís the way it is for you and you want to put in your two pence worth to this online debate, you can always write down the internet html address and access it at home, or in an internet cafe or something (or even on your mobile phone - who knows? I mean, weíre modern these days arenít we?). The full web address is:

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/debate/

Come to think of it, you should probably write that down anyway and get all your family and friends to complete the online debate too, and their wider circle of friends and acquaintances as well. You might even want to forward this BeeLine on to other people you know through work who may be interested in taking part in the debate. You can post it to them or even use the BeeHive 'E-mail to a Friend' facility. That's in the left margin of each BeeLine page and clicking on that enables you to send BeeLines to your mates; if nothing else they'll think you're computer literate and stuff. They may even thank you for turning them on to pensions! Who knows? What I do know, though, is that if enough of us who understand the issues get involved we may even be able to give our legislators something to think about...

Steve Bee

14 March 2006

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