2nd reading
Friday 10th September 2021

(2 years, 10 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Davies of Brixton Portrait Lord Davies of Brixton (Lab)
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My Lords, I join in the tributes to my noble friend Lord Hendy for introducing this Bill. I am also honoured to follow distinguished colleagues from the trade union movement who set out so clearly why this Bill is required.

I support this excellent and essential Bill, but I will refer specifically to what it will do to end what I call pensions arbitrage—there is always a pensions angle. My noble friend identified the different categories of worker. It is important to recognise that they accrue different pension rights. This problem is recognised. The OECD, in the latest edition of its regular report on pension trends, Pensions at a Glance, concluded:

“The emergence and expansion of new forms of work has amplified the pension issues related to non-standard work, especially among low-income earners.”

It is correct to say that we cannot turn back the clock on the development of pension trends, but new forms of work must not leave people worse off in retirement.

In the UK, the issue is mainly about automatic enrolment, which is broadly seen as a success, but one of its deficiencies is that the self-employed are excluded. It is a live issue; considerable thought and attention are being given to the knotty problem of how you automatically enrol self-employed people. The process of automatic enrolment depends in practice on there being an employer but in reality, most of the problem with automatic enrolment and the self-employed, as identified by my noble friend, is bogus self-employment. My belief is that, by sorting out bogus self-employment, many workers will end up with a better pension in retirement. There is a direct connection between the conditions at work and the incomes people receive in retirement. I urge noble Lords to support the Bill for a range of reasons, but improving pensions is key.