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Construction must be heard in pension debate

LETTERS

Sir, In response to your recent reports on the 'looming pension crisis' and A-Day (April 6) changes, I wanted to draw your attention to two related issues.

Firstly, there is a viable alternative scheme for those construction companies that have decided to close their final salary pension schemes but still wish to provide a pension for their staff.

This is EasyBuild, the construction industry's stakeholder pension, provided by ourselves, which is the most popular pension of its kind, with almost 400,000 members.

EasyBuild is a low cost stakeholder pension, to which both employers and employees can contribute. It was established by the industry to address the needs of contractors, which often have large workforces and want to provide a means by which these operatives can save for their retirement.

It is managed on a not-for-profit basis.

The second issue is that A-Day was just the beginning of a major overhaul of pensions in the UK. The Pensions Commission's second report in November highlighted a number of changes that need to take place in order to avert a national pension crisis in the future.

Among the recommendations made are that state retirement age will have to rise in line with average longevity and that a National Pensions Savings Scheme should be set up. This would be run by the state on an auto-enrolment basis, with employees paying 4 per cent, employers 3 per cent and the Government 1 per cent by way of tax relief.

The Government's response to this report will be in the form of a White Paper this spring. We are watching developments and will be making presentations to Government to ensure the industry's interests are known.

Brian Griffiths Chief executive B&CE Benefit Schemes Crawley West Sussex