This blog is about pension policy
For nearly four years , public policy has been blighted by the continuing crisis of how and when we would leave the European Union. The December election has created certainty that we will leave in January and , though 2020 will continue to be overcast by negotiations over trade agreements, we can at least expect politicians to focus again on the great social issues.
For people facing retirement there are two principle issues, health and finances.
Our changing demographic means we will have in the next decade , more strain on the NHS – principally due to demand from those who are 60 and above. The strain on the NHS is acutest at this time of the year and we are all aware that A and E waiting times are deteriorating, waiting lists extending and morale in the medical profession reducing.
People reaching their sixties are facing an uncertain future, despite numerous consultations, the Government has yet to establish a policy that properly addresses the chronic problems of those who can no longer look after themselves and become dependent either on the NHS or on residential or social care.
This lack of policy is in part a by-product of the Brexit paralysis, but there is a more fundamental issue – there is not enough growth in our economy and in tax revenues to meet the increased financial demands of people growing old. Money is going to have to be found from somewhere.
Writing in the Times, Jim Coney points to the large Government majority as an opportunity to take on the second great policy casualty of Brexit. This is the appalling value for money that the tax-payer is getting from incentivising people to save. The VFM is appalling is that the majority of the £40bn dished out each year in pensions tax-relief is benefiting the wealthy and very little of it is providing social insurance against people living too long and becoming a burden on the state.
Two problems , the cost of growing old and the failure to target tax incentives at that cost.
One opportunity – a stonking majority and Brexit already “oven-ready”. Forget keeping back-benchers happy, forget the lack of manifesto promises, the Government is now in the remarkable position of being able to do something positive about our growing old.
So here are the six things this Government could do right now.
- See the Pensions Bill through the Queen’s Speech and onto the statute book , providing us with the legislation for a CDC system, mandating participation in pension dashboards and granting tPR a limited increase in powers.
- Provide a “throw money at it” -fix (within 30 days) as a sticking plaster to the AA taper
- Fix the Net Pay anomaly by adopting the over-ready solution worked out by the net pay anomaly group.
- Consult immediately on the financial issues surrounding long-term care
- Dig out the remedies to the problems set out in the 2015 consultation on tax-relief- mothballed in 2016
- Read , inwardly digest and learn from the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s finding on the WASPI problem.
With such a large majority , it could be easy for Government to kick the problems of later life into the long grass. It’s been done before. It’s vital that the pension community does not let this happen.