8th May 2015
Concerns have been raised about the long-term plan to deal with the pensions crisis as the Conservatives gain power.
The coalition government, made up of Tories and Liberal Democrats, made sweeping changes to pensions; including auto-enrolment, pension freedom and a new flat-rate state pension.
However, former Lib Dem pensions minister Steve Webb (pictured) was widely acknowledged to be the driving force behind the radical changes – he was the one that quipped that he didn’t care whether pensioners bought Lamborghini’s with their savings after pension freedom was introduced.
Following yesterday’s polling, Webb has now been ousted from his Thornbury & Yate seat by Tory Luke Hall. Hall received 19,924 votes to Webb’s 18,429, 14% down on his last election.
Nick Ayton, managing director at GenLife, warned the Lib Dem cull would have ‘far reaching consequences outside that of just party politics’.
‘The loss of key members of the coalition who have been instrumental in preparing and delivering sweeping pension reforms over the last year will slow the momentum for changes that will help solve the pension crisis,’ he said.
While Ayton agreed a majority government brings stability and that there is unlikely to be a watering down or reversal of pension reforms, the Conservatives need to find a pension minister who is good enough to replace Webb.
‘[We need] someone who understand the industry and has worked hard to establish a long-term programme of action,’ he said.
‘Now we are left unsure as to who will be captaining the ship and whether or not they will be up for the job. The importance of ensuring long-term guardianship of pensions in Westminster should not be underestimated. We are increasingly seeing retirement funding becoming a political football as parties introduce, alter and remove practices in order to entice voters.
‘This short-termism poses a significant threat to people planning for retirement, particularly younger savers.’
Ayton called for the new government to ‘set a constitutional precedent and appoint an independent minister at cabinet level to represent the interests of those in, or planning for, retirement’.
He added that the minister should sit outside the political spectrum in order to give ‘continuity and longevity over an issue that will be one of the greatest challenges facing the country over the coming decades’.