Pension freedoms protected and new breed of pension schemes become law

 

A revolution in pension scheme design, which could transform the retirement prospects for millions of younger workers, will now become possible with the passing of the Pension Schemes Act 2015.

The act, which received Her Majesty the Queen’s Royal Assent earlier today, also heralds new rules providing greater clarity for pension savers, as well as protection for those taking advantage of the new pension freedoms after 6 April 2015.

It marks a new era and will pave the way for greater choice for employers in the pensions they offer as well as for savers in how they access their pension savings.

Minister for Pensions Steve Webb said:

The passing of this act marks the culmination of a 5-year pensions revolution under this coalition government.

While for years successive governments simply watched the slow decline of the final salary scheme, we have responded by giving firms new ways of providing their staff with secure pensions.

There is a real appetite from employers to offer high-quality pensions for their staff and the new Defined Ambition pensions made possible by this act will enable a new generation of better, fairer schemes.

The act also protects the new pension freedoms and flexibilities, so people have control of their pension pots, and know it is a criminal offence for scammers to pretend to offer official Pension Wise guidance.

The landmark legislation passed today will create the opportunity for workers to save into plans – known as Defined Ambition – which will offer them a promise about some of the benefits they will receive.

Currently, a growing majority of workers who have a pension pay into Defined Contribution schemes which, while offering many advantages, do not give any guarantees of eventual income.

The Pension Schemes Act will also enable new collective pensions to operate in the UK. Schemes offering collective benefits will be able to pool risks between the members and this can provide greater stability and already operate successfully in other European countries.

These reforms come into effect shortly before ground-breaking new pension freedoms which are due to take effect in April.

The Pension Schemes Act also provides further protection measures for pension savers taking advantage of new flexibilities to access their pension pots from this April, including important new legislation on the new guidance service, Pension Wise.

Pension Wise. Your money. Your choice.

Economic Secretary to the Treasury Andrea Leadsom said:

Our radical pension reforms are about giving people more choice when they retire.

The government believes that people who have worked hard and saved all their lives should have the freedom to decide how to use their savings and the guidance to help them make good decisions.

Pension Wise empowers and educates people so they can make their own, informed choices about their pension and the legal framework for Pension Wise, including the rigorous standards set by the regulator for the service, comes into force today.

Today a new criminal offence comes into effect which means that people passing themselves off as providing the official Pension Wise service will face a fine or prison. This will help ensure Pension Wise is a brand and service that people trust and to protect people from potential scammers.

Pensions reforms and successes since 2010

The Pension Schemes Act builds on the government’s major pension reforms and successes since 2010.

Triple lock

Protection of the basic State Pension means the rate rises by the highest of growth in earnings, prices or 2.5%.

We have committed to spending £10 billion more on the basic state pension over this Parliament than would have been the case without our commitment to the triple lock.

Automatic enrolment

Over 5 million people have now been automatically enrolled into a workplace pension – to help millions save for retirement or save more for the first time.

Charge cap

In April 2015, a charge cap on default funds in defined contribution pension schemes will be introduced to ensure workers auto-enrolled into a workplace pension will be able to save with confidence.

Pension freedoms from 6 April 2015

From April 2015, individuals with a defined contribution pension will have the freedom to access their pension as they wish from age 55. The act also provides the legal framework for Pension Wise.

The Pension Schemes Act will allow schemes to offer flexibility without needing to go through the burdensome process of changing their scheme rules. It will also ensure that those with a Defined Benefit pension who want to access their pension flexibly will benefit from regulated financial advice to ensure that they make the right decision.

The Pension Schemes Act

The Pension Schemes Act is designed to make provision about pension schemes, including encouraging arrangements that offer people different levels of confidence in retirement or that involve different ways of sharing or pooling savings risks.

The act also includes important legislation on the new pension freedoms which will give people greater flexibility and help them make informed decisions about what to do with their savings.

The protection measures for pension savers include:

  • putting in place the new pension guidance service, Pension Wise, ensuring many individuals can transfer their pension savings if they want to access the new flexibilities
  • introducing an important safeguard so that, depending on the form of savings, people may need to obtain independent financial advice before they transfer

Read more about the Pensions Schemes Act on the Parliament website.

Lib Dems announce Green Homes Bill to insulate 10 million homes

The Liberal Democrats today (Tuesday, March 3) announced plans to introduce a new Green Homes Bill in the next Parliament which would improve energy efficiency and promote renewable heat across the UK, ensuring more people benefit from permanently warmer homes and cheaper energy bills.

The Green Homes Bill would build on the success of the policies for warmer homes the Liberal Democrats have delivered in Government: more than one million homes with better energy efficiency in just two years thanks to ECO and the Green Deal; legislation for Zero Carbon Homes in new build and regulations to ban landlords from renting out energy inefficient homes from April 2018; and an ambitious new Fuel Poverty Strategy.

The new Bill would ensure these achievements are built on, incentivising people to insulate their homes by:

● Offering at least £100 each year off your Council Tax for 10 years, when you significantly upgrade the energy efficiency of your home

● Reforming the Green Deal ‘pay as you save’ scheme into a new ‘Green Homes Loan Scheme’ which would extend the current scheme to include renewable heat and electricity

● A new ‘Feed out Tariff’ for investment in Solid Wall Insulation, the most expensive and disruptive type of energy efficiency measure

Liberal Democrats have set an energy efficiency ambition that every home should reach a high standard of energy efficiency by 2035. We believe energy efficiency should be one of our national infrastructure priorities and will support capital projects in this area for spending under our new fiscal rules that permit borrowing for “productive capital”, so long as debt is falling as a share of GDP.

Greg headshotCommenting Greg said:

“I am delighted that theLiberal Democrats have announced plans to insulate up to 10 million homes by 2025. As part of the coalition Government we already havehelped many residents install energy efficiency home improvements which will help control their energy bills.

“This announcement will build on that achievement, delivering a further 10 million energy efficient homes help millions of hard pressed consumers save energy and lower their bills.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat Leader, Nick Clegg said:

“We relentlessly pushed the green agenda over the last five years in government, in the face of strong resistance from the Conservatives.

“Yet despite much needed progress, people particularly from vulnerable households still suffer from homes that are too cold and bills that are too high.

“Energy efficiency is the most important fuel we didn’t know we had. Insulating millions of homes will significantly improve the cost of living and quality of life of people across the UK.”

Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change Ed Davey added:

“Lib Dems in Government have a proud record of improving the nation’s leaky housing stock resulting in permanently warmer homes and cheaper bills, including beating our own target of getting one million homes more energy efficient through ECO and the Green Deal in the past two years.

“This is a solid start but I now want to see nothing less than a Green Homes revolution, delivering 10 million energy efficient homes by 2025 through ambitious targets and generous incentives for people who carry out work to make their homes warmer, cheaper and greener.”
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Lib Dems: Insulating up to 10 million homes by 2025

Liberal Democrats have announced plans to introduce a new Green Homes Bill which would insulate up to 10 million homes by 2025.

Under the plans set out for the next Parliament, homeowners would also be offered a Council Tax discount of at least £100 a year for ten years for making their homes greener.

key_warm-homes.jpg

These measures would improve energy efficiency, promote renewable heat and help people benefit from warmer homes and cheaper energy bills.

The Green Homes Bill would build on the success of Liberal Democrat policies delivered in government to make homes warmer and more energy efficient.

These include legislating for Zero Carbon Homes in new build developments, introducing regulations to ban landlords from renting out energy inefficient homes from 2018, passing a new fuel strategy and making more than one million homes more energy efficient in two years thanks to ECO and the Green Deal.

The Bill would build on these achievements and incentivise people to insulate their homes by:

  • Offering at least £100 each year Council Tax discount for 10 years, when making significant changes to make a home more energy efficient.
  • Reforming the Green Deal ‘pay as you save’ scheme into a new ‘Green Homes Loan Scheme’ which would extend the current scheme to include renewable heat and electricity.
  • A new ‘Feed out Tariff’ for investment in Solid Wall Insulation, the most expensive and disruptive type of energy efficiency measure.

Liberal Democrats have set an ambition that every home should reach a high standard of energy efficiency by 2035.

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg and Deputy Prime Minister said:

“We relentlessly pushed the green agenda over the last five years in government, in the face of strong resistance from the Conservatives.

“Yet despite much needed progress, people particularly from vulnerable households still suffer from homes that are too cold and bills that are too high.

“Energy efficiency is the most important fuel we didn’t know we had. Insulating millions of homes will significantly improve the cost of living and quality of life of people across the UK.”

Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey added:

“Lib Dems in Government have a proud record of improving the nation’s leaky housing stock resulting in permanently warmer homes and cheaper bills, including beating our own target of getting one million homes more energy efficient through ECO and the Green Deal in the past two years.

“This is a solid start but I now want to see nothing less than a Green Homes revolution, delivering 10 million energy efficient homes by 2025 through ambitious targets and generous incentives for people who carry out work to make their homes warmer, cheaper and greener.”

Liberal Democrats unveil Race Equality Plan

Liberal Democrats have set out 17 policies designed to tackle inequalities faced by Britain’s ethnic minorities.

The proposals formed under five key themes covering social and economic issues are collectively called the Liberal Democrat Race Equality Plan. They are designed to sit alongside the party’s existing policies to tackle race inequalities.

These themes are:

  • Representation in public life – The role of government and civil society
  • Creating a modern, diverse and flexible workforce – Barriers to employment
  • Equality before the law – Crime, justice and civil liberties
  • Opportunity and freedom – Lifelong education
  • Equality of access to healthcare

Announcing the proposals Liberal Democrat Race Equality Champion Ibrahim Taguri said:

“The time has come for race equality to be placed at the centre of the political agenda and at the heart of government.

“These seventeen policies are designed to address some of the fundamental obstacles to creating a fairer society and a stronger economy.

“I want to ensure that no future generation endures the poverty, injustices and hardships that I faced growing up.

“My door is open to anyone who wishes to discuss these proposals.”

Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg added:

“Government must strive to level the playing field so that everyone can look to the future and have an equal opportunity to get on in life.

“If this parliament was about reviving the economy, the next will be about rewiring the economy so that it embodies the values of fairness and opportunity, making Britain a place where every person really can get ahead.

“The Race Equality Plan is a significant step towards that and I look forward to its implementation in full.”

THINK! cycle safety campaign expanded

A campaign designed to improve safety for cyclists will be extended to 7 new cities, Road Safety Minister Robert Goodwill announced today (2 March 2015).

The campaign uses a series of practical tips to remind motorists and cyclists of the rules of the road and the actions they can take to help reduce collisions.

Cycling Minister Robert Goodwill said:

We have some of the safest roads in the world but 1 cyclist’s death is 1 too many and we are determined to make our roads safer.

This poster campaign will build on the success of last year’s work to remind drivers to take care around cyclists and remind cyclists of the actions they can take to stay safe on the road. This message is especially important as the weather improves and more people take to their bikes.

The campaign will run for a third time in Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds and Manchester, where statistics show the highest rates of traffic collisions involving cyclists compared to the population.

This year’s campaign will now also be extended to include a further 7 cities with high cyclist casualties figures – Bradford, Brighton and Hove, Kingston upon Hull, Newcastle, Portsmouth and Southampton.

Analysis of last year’s campaign showed that more than three quarters of drivers agreed the adverts reminded them about the importance of looking out for cyclists.

More than £374 million has been made available by the government to support safer cycling, including £35 million to tackle dangerous junctions, while nearly all of the projects being funded by the department’s £600 million Local Sustainable Transport Fund contain a cycling element.

Spend on cycling is currently around £6 per person each year across England, and over £10 per person in London and the 8 Cycling Ambition Cities – Manchester, Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford, Newcastle, Norwich, Leeds, Birmingham – which have received extra cash for cycling infrastructure.

Meanwhile, councils have been challenged to ‘cycle-proof’ their existing roads and plan for cyclists when designing new road infrastructure. Local authorities are also able to spend a portion of £1.89 billion they receive for roads to improve provision for cyclists.

The government has also made it simpler for councils to introduce 20 miles per hour zones and limits and install mirrors at junctions to help eliminate blind spots for drivers of heavy goods vehicles and ensure better visibility of cyclists.

Images from the campaign are available on THINK! website.

Liberal Democrats set out ambition to double the UK’s production of renewable energy by 2020

renewable energy wind turbine double by 2020Liberal Democrats have set out plans to double the UK’s production of renewable electricity by 2020 and make Britain zero carbon by 2050.

This would end the UK’s adverse impact on climate change for good.

In government the Liberal Democrats have already more than doubled the amount of electricity from renewables.

We have overseen the single biggest reform of the UK’s energy infrastructure since privatisation, created a low-carbon, pro-renewable, and energy secure nation less reliant on unstable regimes for energy needs.

Liberal Democrats have also led the way in boosting Europe’s energy security through creating a fully functioning European Energy Market.

Liberal Democrats are prioritising the environment in the next election by putting green issues at the front of our election manifesto.

Under Liberal Democrat plans, the production of renewable electricity will be doubled by the end of the next Parliament.

If in government after the General Election, the party wants to take the fight against climate change further by introducing a Zero Carbon Britain Bill in the next Parliament.

Measures within the Zero Carbon Bill include:

  • A new legally binding target for Zero Carbon Britain by 2050.
  • A new legally binding decarbonisation target for the power sector by 2030 to support investment in all forms of low carbon electricity.
  • Establishing an Office for Accelerated Low Carbon Innovation to fast-track new green tech including tidal power, renewable heat, ultra-low emission vehicles, energy storage and CCS.
  • Applying Emissions Performance Standards (EPS) to existing coal plants from 2025 to end use of unabated coal generation
  • Full borrowing powers to the Green Investment Bank, to further boost investment in low carbon technology

Green Energy renewable energy Government

Commenting on the plans for a Zero Carbon Bill, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg said:

“It’s no exaggeration to say our future, and that of our children, depends upon us tackling climate change head on. The more we delay, the more we are at threat from this ticking time bomb.

“This is why if in government again we will set about making Britain zero carbon, securing more home grown renewable energy whilst also reducing our reliance on regimes who use western energy needs as a blunt foreign policy tool.”

“Our plans are a bold ambition to end Britain’s adverse impact on climate change completely, but I believe it can be done within my lifetime.

Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey added:

“Lib Dems in government have already more than doubled the amount of renewable electricity in the UK and on Thursday I announced a host of green energy projects had won contracts from Government which together could power the equivalent of all households in Wales. Our plans for the future take this to a whole new level.

“Our Zero Carbon Bill will make a huge contribution to creating a stronger economy and a fairer society. A stronger economy means a quarter of a million new green jobs over the next 5 years, and establishing Britain as a world leader in renewable technology.

“A fairer society means not mortgaging the futures of our children and grandchildren by acting now to end the adverse impact of climate change and protect the British landscape and wildlife.”

“The five green laws are nailed to the front page of our manifesto and over the coming days we will flesh our plans to deliver this ambition.”

One step closer to enshrining international aid spending in law

Liberal Democrat Peer Jeremy Purvis has welcomed the successful progress though the House of Lords of the Lib Dem Bill to enshrine the UK’s aid spending target in law.

The Bill, which was proposed in the Commons by Michael Moore MP and which would ensure 0.7% of the UK’s Gross National Income is spend on international aid, cleared its Report Stage despite sustained pressure from a small minority of Peers set on derailing the proposals.

The Bill will now be scheduled for its Third Reading – the final test it must overcome before being signed into law.

International Aid - Africa

Commenting, Jeremy said:

“Michael Moore’s Bill is now just one step away for becoming law. I am hugely grateful to all those, from all sides of the House of Lords and particularly my Liberal Democrat colleagues, who came out in force to support the Bill and vote down amendments designed to wreck it.

“I am also grateful to the many people outside Parliament who have made clear their support for this vital legislation. We have overcome a crucial stage of the process and now it is important we do all we can do finish the Bill’s passage before the election.

“UK aid has the capacity to change lives, by passing this Bill we can move the debate on from how much support we give to how we ensure our support goes to those who need it most. I look forward to making sure the Bill overcomes its final hurdle and gets onto the statue book.”

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Have your say on pharmacy services in North East Lincolnshire

Time is running out for people in North East Lincolnshire Council to give their views on the current provision of pharmaceutical services across the area and how this meets the needs of the population

The authority is consulting on the draft pharmaceutical needs assessment (PNA) 2015-2018 for North East Lincolnshire. The Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment (PNA) looks at current provision and also identifies any potential gaps in service delivery. The PNA will be used by NHS England to help decide whether to approve applications for new pharmacies.

PNAs are used by the NHS to make decisions on which NHS funded services need to be provided by local community pharmacies. The PNA will help NHS England when making decisions on whether to approve applications to open new pharmacies and will help to gauge the adequacy of current services and what future needs there might be.

The consultation asks people if the draft PNA clearly explains what pharmaceutical services are currently available in North East Lincolnshire, and whether the pharmaceutical needs of the North East Lincolnshire population are reflected appropriately.

Using the findings from this consultation and from other feedback, a final PNA for North East Lincolnshire will be published April 2015.

The consultation, which began in January, runs until March 12 and the draft PNA along with a corresponding questionnaire can be found and completed online via the North East Lincolnshire Council website www.nelincs.gov.uk/pna

For more information or to request a paper copy please email: nel.phintelligence@nhs.net or call 07768 688900.

Cycling receives multi-million pound investment across the nation

Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced £115m in funding for cycling projects across the UK.

The money will be split between eight major cities, with each using the money to improve the safety and accessibility of their cycle routes.

key_cycling_invest.gif

This covers:

  • £22m for Birmingham, with plans to build the infrastructure needed to double the number of cycling journeys made there by 2023.
  • £19m for Bristol, with a proposal to improve the city’s cycling network and routes across urban areas and Bath.
  • £6m for Cambridge, with plans for new bridge over the River Cam, segregated cycling routes in the city and more links in South Cambridgeshire.
  • £22m for Leeds, with plans to expand its current cycle superhighway and improve links to Bradford, Huddersfield, Wakefield and York.
  • £22m for Manchester, with plans to develop more than 45km of new or improved cycle routes as phase two of its Cycle City plan.
  • £10.6m for Newcastle, intended to make it easier for cyclists to get to work from in and around the city.
  • £8.4m for Norwich, with plans to redesign 31km of key cycle routes.
  • £3.m for Oxford, intended to provide better links between the city centre and south east of the city.

In government, the Liberal Democrats have worked to boost cycling infrastructure. Following Nick’s announcement last year of £100m for improving cyclist and pedestrian access along key roads in Britain, the government’s total investment in cycling was brought up to £588m.

Nick said:

“We are in the midst of a cycling revolution in the UK but we need to make sure we’re in the right gear to see it through. That’s why I’m so pleased to announce this investment for these major cities to make it easier for people to get around on two wheels.

“With the legacy of the 2012 Olympics and the Tour de France in Yorkshire last year still fresh in our minds, this money can help Britain become a cycling nation to rival the likes of Denmark and the Netherlands.

“Research shows us that boosting cycling could save billions of pounds otherwise spent on the NHS, reduce pollution and congestion, and create a happier and safer population.”

Grimsby and Cleethorpes Lions helping to bridge generations and bring community together

North East Lincolnshire Council

This month the Grimsby and Cleethorpes Lions are launching two community projects which they hope will help to close the generational gap and support elderly and isolated residents in North East Lincolnshire.

Terry Brown, president of Grimsby and Cleethorpes Lions said:

“Our club is dedicated to helping to improve the lives of residents within our local community and has a proud record of achievement in this regard. In these projects we wish to address the issue of loneliness and isolation of some of our more mature population, especially during the long dark winter months.”

Working alongside North East Lincolnshire Council, the first of the latest Lions community projects sees them contacting local secondary academies with a request to “twin” with a local care home or sheltered scheme.

Terry added:

“Many elderly people, some of whom, but not all, live in care homes or sheltered accommodation, have very limited contact with the outside world and in particular with young people. Examples of what could be provided might include regular contact by the school choir or musicians, cooking meals or purely groups of older pupils just chatting to the residents and giving them company. We of course welcome suggestions as to other activities. We really hope that all of our secondary academies agree to take part.”

The Lions will bring schools and the appropriate homes together with the support of the council who are giving the project full support at cabinet level and are assisting with mapping the location of care homes.

The second of the projects, a pensioner’s shindig, will take place in the community room at Freeman Street Market on March 27 at 3pm.

60 local older people will be transported to the event where they will receive a buffet and refreshments, entertainment in the form of the GI girls and a gift of an Easter Egg before their carriages arrive at 6pm.