A third way for pensions? Not this time!

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Liberal pension policy – ahem!

I was asked yesterday, after my discussion of the Labour party’s pension manifesto , to analyse other party’s pension policy commitments.

I’d like to write a headline about Liberal party support for present and future pensioners but I want to keep readers and their manifesto does  not give us a pension policy, not even a pleasantry.

  • Retain the Triple Lock on the basic state pension, so that it rises in line with the highest of wages, prices or 2.5 per cent.

  • Ensure that the women born in the 1950s are properly compensated for the failure of government to properly notify them of changes to the state pension age, in line with the recommendations of the parliamentary ombudsman.

  • Address continuing inequalities in pensions law for those in same-sex relationships.

Pensions are a mystery to millions of voters, even underfunded policy teams like the Liberals can engage with the confusion people feel and pledge to do something about it.

I wrote to the Liberals offering to help them understand difficult issues like CDC and the net pay anomaly, but this just wasn’t a priority. I got a polite email back. There was no-one to listen.

Only four years ago we had a Liberal Democrat Pension Minister. But Steve Webb is now confined to reminding us what Liberal policy was. Steve was the author of the Defined Ambition sections of the 2015 Pensions Act, which was the genesis of CDC. He was a keen supporter of fairer tax relief.

As he reported in a Royal London briefing, the Lib Dem 2016 manifesto included a zealous appeal to reform pension taxation

To review the case for, and practical implications of “..a single rate of tax relief for pensions, which would be designed to be simpler and fairer and would be set more generously than the current 20% basic rate relief”.

As Webb commented on his briefing paper, available on the Royal London site

The ..proposal would have involved a radical shake-up of pension tax relief and was the only mention of the subject of pension tax relief in the manifestos of the three main UK-wide parties

this proposal has been dropped, their is no mention of any of the measures in the washed-out pension bill, the Liberals have no-one who can properly promote pensions.

A shame

Later today I will be delivering 200 letters for Chuka Umunna, who’s my Liberal Prospective Parliamentary Candidate. I’m a fan of the man.

It is a shame that a party strong on social impact has completely forgotten what pensions are about.

It is a shame that Parliamentarian of the year in 2016, Sir Steve Webb, was not elevated to the peerage. He is doing a great job at Royal London, (for Royal London), but how I wish he could be speaking as a third force in pensions.

The man who did so much to make pensions accessible to ordinary people, is sorely missed.


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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2 Responses to A third way for pensions? Not this time!

  1. Peter Tompkins says:

    You are right here. But there are two other things to draw out. One is that the triple lock is economically unsustainable in the long term as the maths guarantees pensioners an ever higher state of the economy than workers. It’s offered for short-term electoral gain. Probably best abolished early by a government winning a landslide. The other is the really clever wording on 50s women. It looks positive. But all it says is Parliament will do what its ombudsman concludes. Which is what it has to do in any situation.

  2. henry tapper says:

    Thanks Peter, my thoughts too. The Labour party manifesto repeats the dose.

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