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Think tank urges UK to copy Australian pension scheme

THE UK should follow the lead of Australia 20 years ago in reforming its old age pension system to make it sustainable in the long-term, according to think tank Reform Scotland.

Their report urges ministers to grasp the nettle and introduce a sustainable system of mandatory contributions to personal pension pots in both the public and private sector. It would replace the current "Ponzi scheme" - a reference to the 1920s fraud - in which investors are paid only on contributions of new investors, leading to potential collapse.

Co-author, pensions expert Alan McFarlane, said: "I have two grandchildren and I want a system that is sustainable for them. If action is taken someone is going to get his or her name written in history alongside Bevan or Beveridge."

Reform Scotland propose scrapping the employees' NI contributions, which can be up to 12% for low earners but only 2% for those on big pay. Income tax would be raised by 7% but a mandatory 8% pension contribution would be offset in full by a tax deduction, while the current state pension would be phased out over time.

Workers earning £20,000 stand to gain £1422 if they already pay 8% towards their retirement but those without a pension would lose £178.

Those on £50,000 with an 8% pension would benefit by £179 but those without a pension would lose £3812, while £100,000 earners would lose out across the board by £2321 if they have an 8% pension and £10,321 if they do not.

Ben Thomson, an investment banker and founder of Reform Scotland, added: "In reality, people on higher pay will already be contributing at least 8%, so it's not until you get to about £60,000 that you're going to pay more.

"If something isn't done the unsustainability of tax means that tax will have to go up."Since Australia moved to a mandatory contribution model, individual pension pots are now worth 1.7 trillion Australian dollars, providing guarantees for the future and much needed finance for current infrastructure spending.

A Department of Work and Pensions spokeswoman said: "Action is being taken to change state pension age to ensure the system remains sustainable."

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