Calling Guy Opperman MP, Minister for pensions and inclusion,
“are you out there?”
I’m on my way up to Manchester clutching an email from your office saying you want to meet me, I will be at (y)our conference for the next two days and I’d really like to know what (y)our views are on the current state of pensions.
Here they are;
- We’ve recently revamped the State Pension , in the process there have been winners and losers. Among the losers have been those who have stayed contracted in to SERPS/S2P – can you forgive them envy for those who contracted-out , will get the same single state pension and up to £100k as an additional pot- funded by national insurance rebates?
- You inherited the work of John Cridland on the State Retirement Age, it included a recommendation for a mid life review for people to engage with their later life income needs and rights. Has anything been done to take this idea forward? There are many angry women who point to the absence of any such engagement over state pension increases for WASPI, do you see an opportunity here to be proactive?
- The Corporate Defined Benefit sector is in turmoil with large employers ratting on their pension promises left right and centre. What is the Government going to do to maintain the balance between the employer’s obligations of good faith to members and their wider obligations to their shareholders and staff not in their DB plans?
- We want investment of pension funds to do more, both for members and society. What part will the DWP be playing in the regulation of pension investments? Will you be telling us soon what you expect from occupational schemes by way of disclosures and have you anything to add on the questions of value for money?
- Next year we expect to see a new body providing public sponsored “guidance”, do you know what’s happening in at TPAS/MAS and CAB and do you have a plan to get people to engage with this new body?
- The FCA are consulting on Retirement Outcomes and the difference between advice and guidance. They are calling for innovation. We had innovatory approaches we were planning following Pension Act 2015 but we’ve never had the regulatory plans to take them forward. Will you answer the Labour Party’s call and recommence the secondary regulation to allow us to provide people with collective ways of spending their pots?
- The Pensions Dashboard seems to be lacking a sponsor, since Simon lost his seat in Brighton. Will you step up and champion the single view technology proposed by the Treasury, or at least give occupational schemes a steer on progress?
- The auto-enrolment review is rolling along, I see you’ve included “inclusion” in your title, will you be adopting the recommendations of the Taylor report and taking steps to include the self-employed and others who fall outside the AE net?
- Are you aware of the problems that low paid people in occupational schemes have in getting the promised Government incentive to save? Unless the Scheme opts to use the “relief at source” method, low paid people are missing out on incentives through no fault of their own. Are there any plans to right this wrong?
- You’ll be aware I’m sure, that billions of pounds will flow out of DB occupational pension schemes as CETVs. Are you comfortable with what is happening? Do you have any plans to clarify the basis of transfer to ensure that transfer values seem more equitable and how do you respond to your predecessor’s calls for mandated split transfers?
- Finally, I hope I don’t need to remind you that much of the money flowing out of well managed pension funds, ends up in poorly managed funds – some of which are scams. Do you support the ban on cold-calling and have you any further measures in the pipeline to protect the vulnerable people who fall prey to poor advice and outright fraud?
I appreciate this is a long list of questions, but as we haven’t heard anything from you on Government policy since you took over from Richard Harrington earlier in the year, it seems we’ve all had to sit behind your learning curve. At the last party conference, I listened to Richard Harrington telling me I’d have to be patient as I wouldn’t get much sense from him till next year. Well he’s moved on and will you be saying the same thing to me this year?
I’m all for elected officials making policy decisions and support your being Pensions Minister, but your visibility is required and I very much hope you or a member of your team will be able to get in touch. My number is 07785 377768 and I’ll be in Manchester from 9 am this morning as party delegate for City and Westminster.