All businesses with employees will be forced to automatically provide a pension for their employees and contribute towards it too from 2012. That means all firms, even those with one employee.
This moves the goalposts quite significantly as previous legislation exempted 'micro-businesses'. It will end up with fewer people employed by these small firms, a hike in their prices, a hit to their bottom line or a combination of all three.
The only concession is that the pension does not have to be offered until the employee has served three months. This keeps agency staff and temps out of the equation.
I have no problem with getting people to save for their retirement but they also need to do so to cater for the wobbly periods that affects their income that they will experience during their working lives (redundancy and illness for example).
What I do have a problem with though, is that generally the only way if achieving any form of savings is to either put your hard earned dosh under the mattress, deposit it with a financial institution, be brave and self invest or let the government get its hands on it.
You put it under the mattress at your own risk of theft, fire and inflation. And, if we all put our money under the mattress you can bet your shirt that a mattress tax would quickly follow.
Then maybe we should give it to a financial institution, maybe through a bank or IFA. Some shares and bonds etc. All managed by the same bonus hungry mob that got us into this mess in the first place.
Even if we self invest the money will usually end up in the hands of the above too.
Then there's the government. We could give it to them, but based on previous history I would not want my savings boosting the treasury's coffers in the hope that I would get it back enhanced.
With pensions though people are being asked to tie up money until they are 55 years old (at present). This will take more money out of the general economy and put it into the hands of the banks to be shuffled profitably about from one fund to another.
It is also conveniently forgotten that we pay National Insurance. This extra pension provision is really a NI hike on small firms.
Without real financial services regulation and reform or proper ring-fencing of government funds that would protect the investor, money placed in banks or government coffers will always be handy for extracting outlandish bonuses or funding another outreach project or war. And then hope you can pass the shortfall into the future for someone else to clear up.
Just remember what people were told when the current state pension scheme was set up all those decades ago.