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'Murky' pension practices action

RETIRED workers will be able to "shop around" for new pension schemes in the same way they can change mortgages under new plans to tackle "murky" practices among insurance firms, the pensions minister has said.

Steve Webb wants to end the "lottery" in which many pensioners are trapped in potentially poor-value schemes until they die.

The Liberal Democrat MP said his new plans would address "hidden charges" from insurers to give retired workers a better deal.

It comes after an official advisory panel found retirees are often put off from shopping around because they face a bewildering ­variety of options in the UK's complex £12 billion annuities market.

Mr Webb said: "When you take out a mortgage, in a few years if rates change you can switch your mortgage.

"But when you take out an annuity, that's it - for life. This could easily be for a quarter of a century.

"Why shouldn't you be able to change your annuity provider so a few years later somebody else could offer you a bigger pension?"

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