Reacting to the release of the Pensions White Paper, British Chambers of Commerce Director General, David Frost, said:

"Much of the White Paper will be welcomed by businesses, in particular a higher basic state pension - with less reliance on means testing - and an increase in the state pension age to counter rising longevity."

"The Government has grasped the nettle on a range of important issues including reducing disincentives to save for a more generous basic state pension and permitting automatic enrolment into occupational schemes."

"The major concern for businesses will be the impact of the compulsory three per cent employer contribution to the NPSS - particularly on small firms. Our 2005 pensions survey found that 74 per cent of small employers do not currently provide a contribution because it is cost-prohibitive."

"Forcing smaller employers to contribute will mean cutbacks in expenditure elsewhere - such as salary increases, investment or staffing levels."

"UK firms are facing intense pressures, both globally and domestically. Piling additional costs on to them will simply increase the cost of doing business in the UK and further undermine business' ability to compete with rapidly developing economies such as China and India."

"If the Government does not change its mind on compulsory employer contributions, steps MUST be taken to mitigate the impact, particularly  on small firms. Businesses should be fully consulted as to the best mechanism for doing this."

The main elements of the white Paper supported by the BCC include:

  • The proposal to reform the State Pension System to reduce disincentives to save for retirement
  • A more generous state flat rate pension financed through raising the pension age in the medium term and maintaining a proportionate balance between time working and in retirement.
  • Reducing the contributions test ensuring the Basic State Pension is fully available to the majority of future pensioners.
  • The principle of a new voluntary National Pensions Savings Scheme (NPSS) targeted at those without access to an occupational scheme.
  • Auto enrolment to occupational schemes but with some technical reservations to the NPSS.