Select Committee on Economic Affairs Fourth Report


APPENDIX 4

Call for Evidence

The Economic Affairs Committee has decided to conduct an inquiry into aspects of the economics of an ageing population, and in particular to consider (i) length of working life; (ii) women; and (iii) fundamentals of pension policy.

Evidence is invited by 1 March 2003.

The Committee will need to discover the basic factual position, including the extent to which the UK's population is ageing and how the UK compares with other countries in this regard.

The Committee welcomes written submissions which address any or all of the following:

1.  To what extent is the UK's population ageing? What effect will this phenomenon have on the supply of labour and capital, wages, interest rates, asset prices (especially housing) and productivity? How do the relevant facts vary by gender and ethnic group?

2.  How might policy reverse the recent trend towards early retirement? Should legislation to outlaw age discrimination be introduced? Would it work? Should there be a statutory retirement age? Can the labour market absorb more older workers? To what extent do people choose when to retire?

3.  Why do people not save enough for retirement? How might they be encouraged to do so? What new products could the financial services industry offer to support retirement income and to influence retirement decisions?

4.  Why are most pensioners who live in poverty women? How might public policy provide for people (mostly women) who cannot make regular and continuous contributions to a pension scheme throughout their working life? What responsibilities do private-sector financial product providers have?

5.  What is the role of the basic state pension and does it fulfil that role? How is pension policy influenced by ideology, short-term political considerations, the need to produce consensus and the need to protect existing benefits?

6.  How should the following objectives of pension provision be prioritised in formulating pensions policy: adequacy, fairness, protecting incentives, affordability, certainty, simplicity, transparency, practicality and choice? What are the trade-offs?

7.  Is it appropriate to have as an explicit policy objective the reduction of public spending on pensions as a proportion of GDP? What is the role and relevance of (i) the institutional framework; (ii) fiscal policy; (iii) regulatory requirements?

8.  What effect do means-tested benefits for pensioners have on work and saving incentives? Are there any people for whom zero or low saving is the appropriate economic response to their circumstances?

9.  Is the continuing trend away from public and towards private provision economically sustainable? How are we to determine the best public/private balance?


 
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