Automatic Enrolment: Lower Earnings Limit

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:42 pm on 12th March 2019.

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Photo of Angela Crawley Angela Crawley Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Disabilities), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Pensions), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Youth affairs), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Children and Families), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Equalities) 4:42 pm, 12th March 2019

I thank the Minister for that intervention. He might well remember that the SNP supported the concept of a pensions dashboard, but the Government rejected a number of key amendments in which we argued for the protection of vulnerable individuals. We are singing from the same hymn sheet about our ambitions and aims, but the fact of the matter is that the Government have the responsibility to introduce the scrapping of the lower earnings limit and the introduction of auto-enrolment pensions contributions, at the very least for those aged 18 and over, and at present they have not made a commitment to do so. He must act on his own words.

Women are often the primary parents or carers for loved ones. They are often the ones who take career breaks and part-time or flexible work to fit in with their responsibilities. They also live longer and work more hours to make ends meet. They are the most likely to be impacted by this Government’s decisions and will bear the long-term impact of the changes. Why is the Minister delaying, and to what end? Is he hoping to kick the issue further down the road so that this Government do not have to deal with it, and a future Government will, or will he give a cast-iron commitment today that he will do something to address the issue on lower earnings limits and for each of the vulnerable groups that I have mentioned?

Ultimately, ensuring that every pound earned by every worker counts towards their pension should be an ambition that we all strive for. If the estimated savings of a pension ought to be 15% to 18%, the Government’s ambition to reach 8% already falls short. The whole low-paid workforce should predominantly be recognised for their hard-earned contributions. I hope that the Government will answer the questions that my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire South and I have asked today, and that they will commit to deliver on this policy.