Oral Answers to Questions — Pensioner Poverty

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2 April 2001.

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Photo of Alistair Darling Alistair Darling Secretary of State for Social Security 12:00, 2 April 2001

The hon. Lady was right on one point: stakeholder pensions will help to reduce the number of pensioners dependent on means-tested benefits at or near to retirement. I hope that she can find it in her heart to support stakeholder pensions, because they provide a very good option for people who do not at present have a funded pension option.

The hon. Lady asked what we were doing to ensure that employers are aware of their obligations. Their obligation is straightforward: if they employ five or more people, they simply have to designate a stakeholder pension scheme. The Government have written to people and advertised, and companies have pointed out to employers the advantages of providing good-quality pension schemes. The combination of all those actions will have an effect, but the best way of selling any pensions product is for people to see that it works. As stakeholder pensions begin to be sold and people become more aware of their advantages, many more employers will want to ensure that their employees get the benefit of them.