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Government backs public pensions plan

The government has put its weight behind the creation of a public body to develop and administer the IT systems for a National Pension Savings Scheme.

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The government has put its weight behind the creation of a public body to develop and administer the IT systems for a National Pension Savings Scheme.

Last week’s pensions white paper made clear the government’s preference for a personal account scheme run by a centralised public organisation, raising the prospect of another high-profile public sector IT project.

The state agency would develop and run the systems for automatically enrolling customers with the service, and collecting and processing pension contributions.

The Association of British Insurers said it would continue to press for a scheme run by the private sector that made more use of insurers’ existing infrastructure.

“We remain convinced that the systems that are needed to run such a scheme already exist in our member companies and all that would be required is greater interconnectivity,” an ABI spokesman said.

Andrew Power, insurance partner at consultancy Deloitte, said insurers only had a short time to make a compelling and costed case for making more use of existing private sector IT systems. “I would say they have three to six months to make that case,” he said.

For Whitehall to meet its timetable for a new pensions scheme by 2012, Power said all design issues would need to be resolved quickly to enable legislation next year.

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