THE head of the Pensions Commission said today that the Government faced tough decisions about how to implement changes to the state pension system.
Lord Turner said while there was broad consensus in the Government about the reforms that were needed, the debate centred on how far and how fast the changes should be implemented.
The former CBI chief has previously proposed raising the state pension in line with earnings rather than prices, but his suggestions were reportedly dismissed as being unaffordable by Chancellor Gordon Brown.
Lord Turner told BBC Breakfast there was broad support for raising the state pension age and automatic enrolment in a national pension saving scheme.
But he said the Treasury was "playing its legitimate role" in questioning the proposed reforms.
"There is a lot of support for the principle of automatic enrolment that we have proposed into a national state pension saving scheme.
"People accept that the state pension age is going to have to go up. But there is also a belief that the state pension has to become more generous than it would otherwise be at that later age.
Lord Turner said while there was room for some flexibility, the Government's pension policy had to be along the lines of what the commission had suggested, otherwise the whole package would not fit together.
He said: "Unless we have an improving state pension, there isn't a good basis on which people can build private savings."
Lord Turner said the diffi- culty for any Government implementing pension policy was the time lag between int- roduction and the benefits.
"We have got to be able to give people a clear message of what the state is going to do for them and not going to do for them and what they need to do on top of what the state does," he said.
Lord Turner is expected to use his final report before the Commission is disbanded to urge the Government to implement his recommendations, even though this is likely to mean higher taxes.