So what do pension people want from politicians?

I’ve started so I’ll finish, I will post my views on the Conservative manifesto from a pensions perspective, when it gets published. But as I didn’t have to waste many words on the Liberal policy pleasantary  afterthought, I’d look into what it is that pensions people feel are our priorities.

Professional Pensions do a spot-check on their readership called Pension Buzz which has just asked this question

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What we don’t want…

This is educational for everyone. Maybe Professional Pensions’ readers are no longer involved in DB plans and have given up on the issue, but it is surprising that DB funding was considered a political priority by only one in twenty five readers and that the issue of DB consolidation didn’t appear in the top 8. The White Paper on DB is clearly not on the top of pension professionals reading lists.

It is not surprising that CDC is not a high priority, no-one has yet articulated a compelling case for expanding CDC beyond Royal Mail ( I don’t count my blogs as a major contribution to the debate – sadly).

It is surprising that the future of advice and guidance is not a priority, especially with the mess that MAPS finds itself in. The Pensions Dashboard is perhaps the proxy, but the difficult choices that people retiring “with freedom” today , are facing, is clearly not seen as a political issue.

What we do want….

What is good, is that the net pay anomaly is now in the top-four issues that we’d like addressed. It sits below the question of contribution rates, widening the scope of AE and the future of the triple-lock as the one new entrant into our consciousness.

I suspect that it is the one area of pension taxation that we all feel as one about and – despite the feeble support of the PLSA, PMI and co, it is becoming a popular issue, at least in our bubble.

We want fairness, we want what we do to be sustainable and not be dragged down by scandal and we see the net pay anomaly as something that threatens the gains made in the past eight years through auto-enrolment.

We also want to see our Pension Bill back

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I’d call that a ringing endorsement for pension dashboards and a quiet acceptance that CDC is right for Royal Mail, I don’t hear much clamour for increasing tPR’s powers but it’s clear that we want some means to improve pensions – our pensions bill.

If I had seen a stronger clamour for action on DB consolidation, I might have interpreted some of the “No’s” and “Don’t knows” as wanting an expanded pensions bill, but I suspect there is a hardcore of opposition to change that we see everywhere, and a large number of people who are interested in pensions but not the politics of pensions (which is fair enough).


What will we get?

From Labour we got 1970s pensions as part of a 1970s manifesto. Pension pledges that addressed the needs of the 4% who find the future of DB critically important.

From the Liberals we got the 2016 manifesto promises without the review of tax-relief and with no engagement with the nitty-gritty. Frankly we got nothing.

From the Conservatives we will – I assume – get some kind of continuity, which will please the 63% of us who want to see the Pensions Bill back and progress towards dashboards, CDC and the ongoing agenda to widen the scope and funding of AE workplace pensions.

While I have little time for much the Conservatives are doing elsewhere, they are at least a party which is living in today’s world and paying some attention to the problems of ordinary savers. In Guy Opperman, they have had a pensions minister who has been wholely committed to his job. He is not universally popular within his department (as Webb was) but he is at least getting the job done.

The Conservative agenda may not yet have been published, but it looks closest aligned to the readership of Professional Pensions, and – as much as we can take that readership as a proxy for pension professionals, we have to put our weight behind the Tories – at least as far a pensions go.

About henry tapper

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