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ONS plans threaten to shake up the pension industry

Controversial new plans by the ONS to potentially alter the way in which it calculates the RPI (Retail Prices Index) could have significant consequences for anyone that currently has a defined-benefit pension scheme.

The potential change is likely to have a “far-reaching impact” on pension investments in general if given the thumbs up, according to The National Association of Pension Funds.

Both the Bank of England (BoE) and the Chancellor of the Exchequer will contribute to a meeting beginning on 8 October that will make a final decision on the issue.

“Pension funds are major investors in government debt and changes to index-linked bonds could have far-reaching impacts on those investments. It could also alter the amount by which pensions being paid to former workers are increased each year,” said NAPF policy director Darren Philp.

Laith Khalaf, Hargreaves Lansdown pension investment manager, was cautious when contemplating the impact of such changes.

“While this is likely to be good news for employers running defined-benefit schemes, the members of those schemes are going to lose out because their pensions will be worthless.”

Jim Bligh, confederation of British Industry head of pensions policy, was considerably more upbeat when looking into how such changes might work and what they might ultimately mean for the future of the UK pension industry.

“In the short-term, gilt yields will drop but the value of liabilities will decrease over the longer term. It also means those companies that could not switch from RPI to CPI will benefit from the change,” stated Bligh.

CPI stood at a total of 2.5% in August 2012. This was after it had recently dropped slightly from 2.6% in July. RPI stood at 2.9% in August, down from a total of 3.2% in July.

Even if agreed, any changes will not be implemented until March. This should provide those who will be potentially affected with ample time to get used to the change in circumstances

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