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REGULATION/LEGISLATION

U.K. Conservatives planning to create sovereign wealth funds

Manifesto also calls for changing pension benefits to 'double lock'

The Conservative Party pledged to create a number of U.K. sovereign wealth funds, known as Future Britain funds, to back British infrastructure and the economy.

Details outlined in the political party's manifesto, published Thursday, said politicians “will now make this a central part of our long-term plan for Britain.” The Conservative party is currently in control of the government.

It is expected that early funds will be created out of revenues from shale gas extraction, dormant assets and the receipts of sale of some private assets, said the manifesto. “We will encourage pension funds with an interest in joining Future Britain funds to do so.” Retirement featured heavily in the manifesto, with a section entitled “An Ageing Society” that addresses the needs of a British economy against a backdrop of people living longer. The party acknowledged greater longevity “is a good thing, but we should not ignore the consequences,” with rising costs of caring for older generations including the provision of state pension benefits.

Should the party be successful in the general election June 8, the Conservatives promised annual increases in the state pension through a new so-called “double lock,” to be introduced in 2020. This means state pension benefits will either rise in line with the earnings or with inflation — whichever is the highest — on an annual basis.

The double lock would replace the current triple lock, which expires in 2020 and promises increases to the state pension benefits every year by one of three factors — the higher of inflation, average earnings or a minimum of 2.5%.

The Conservatives also said they will “ensure that the state pension age reflects increases in life expectancy, while protecting each generation fairly,” and will continue to support the expansion of automatic enrollment. Politicians also plan to make auto enrollment available to the self-employed.

In its own manifesto published Tuesday, the Labour Party also pledged to amend the U.K. takeover code and “ensure every takeover proposal has a clear plan in place to protect workers and pensioners — because workers shouldn't suffer when a company is sold.”

It addressed state pension benefits, promising to guarantee the triple-lock throughout the next parliament, and also pledged to scrap future increases to the state pension age, beyond plans for it to rise to 66 by the end of 2020. “We will commission a new review of the pension age, specifically tasked with developing a flexible retirement policy to reflect both the contributions made by people, the wide variations in life expectancy and the arduous conditions of some work.”

Labour also said it will “restore confidence in the workplace pension system and put people rather than profit at its center.” The manifesto said politicians will also “end rip-off hidden fees and charges, and enable the development of large efficient pensions funds, which will mean more cash for scheme members and lower costs for employers.”