“A bit of a balls up- to be frank!”

HM TreasuryDWP entrance 2

If you turn left out of the back of the Treasury and walk down to Caxton Street you’ll find the offices of the DWP. If you turn right out of Caxton Street, you’ll come to the Treasury, it’s a five minute walk, you can do it online using street maps

But whether it’s by megaphone, carrier pigeon or more conventional means, it seems that civil servants in the Treasury, can’t talk to civil servants in the DWP, before issuing a press release.

Yesterday the Treasury announced to the press that it intended to introduce a cap on exit penalties on legacy pension products. After a quick telephone call from a journalist, it emerged that this only applied to personal pensions. After what must have been an “in the thick of it” type panic in the Treasury, a further announcement was made that

the Department for Work and Pensions and the Pensions Regulator will work to ‘mirror’ the FCA’s exit fee cap.

The times we live in..

We will be able to understand pensions when we are ready to listen and when Government is prepared to talk. Instead of it being a “public service obligation”, talking effectively must become what Government does. By that I mean Government must start enjoying the process of telling people what is going on and indeed telling each other what is going on!

This can only happen through leadership. Some of the people I meet at the top of the FCA and TPR are brilliant leaders – Christopher Woollard, Lesley Titcombe for instance. I cannot think that they could ever countenance condoning the balls up in the title of this blog.

The problem is in the DNA of the Treasury (and the DWP) where there appears to be a failure in our Body Politic, I’m hoping that DNA can be changed but I’m not sure it can. It will take a huge cultural shift in behaviour to get the Treasury and DWP to walk those few hundred yards and it’s going to take an even bigger shift to get Government properly talking to Citizens.

This is not the Treasury’s fault, not the DWP’s nor Government’s nor Citizens’s. The breakdown in communications is about a change in the times. To solve the problems we need to move with the times and start adopting new attitudes and behaviours better suited to the times we live in.


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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