Shadow minister calls for pension charge clarity

The MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East said he has held talks with several high-profile figures in the pensions and investment industries about charges and auto-enrolment, and it was clear that more needed to be done to help people prepare for retirement.

He said: “I welcome the moves made by Steve Webb, the pensions minister, to improve the state pension and to bring in auto-enrolment. I do believe pensions are the best way to save for retirement but they need to provide value for money. There must be better disclosure of pension costs and savers need to get a good deal.”

Mr McClymont described auto-enrolment as a “revolution” as it used Britain’s propensity to do nothing as a means to carry out a cultural shift – relying on people’s inertia when it comes to financial matters to get them saving into a workplace pension scheme.

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However he said it was not enough to rely on inertia or the National Employment Savings Trust schemes to encourage people to save. He said there had to be change, there had to be transparency and the saver had to be “sovereign”.

Mr McClymont added: “There is a danger that this sounds like scaremongering, but politicians and providers must be certain that what we are pushing people towards is not misleading or unclear. Are active member discounts employed? Are they justifiable? Are there exit fees? Is there a standard, transparent fee structure?

“There is room for a lot more advice on pensions and people need to see how much they need to save and how much they can expect to receive in retirement. But on this matter of advice, especially with the smaller firms that will be made to offer an auto-enrolment scheme. These must be aligned with the saver’s interests, not the employers or the advisers.”

Roy McLoughlin, principal of London-based Master Adviser, said: “Auto-enrolment is going to prove to be a difficult issue for smaller employers, and especially with regard to part-time staff as it is difficult to get a straight answer as to what sort of pension part-timers will get.”