Is there space for “financial inclusion” in the rush for growth?

Alex Burghart, Pensions Minister in waiting

Although Alex Burghart has been answering parliamentary question on pensions, he is not yet the pensions minister and there seems to be some hesitancy at the DWP about who is taking what responsibilities.

This may be because there appears to be one less minister in place at the DWP than usual, it may also be that (and titles matter) , the post given up by Guy Opperman was that of Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion.

In Thatcher’s day, Guy Opperman would have been called a “wet” and Alex Burghart is clearly much drier. He has enthusiastically promoted the new world order of the mini-budget and that has nothing to do with “financial inclusion”, so I wouldn’t be surprised when, once all the role allocation is concluded, the new title does not include “financial inclusion”. Some would argue that it shouldn’t include “pensions” either, so fixated have we become on retirement wealth rather than retirement income. I am not in their corner.

Much as the funds and insurance lobbies would like pensions to be a legacy item at the back of the wealth management cupboard, for most people, pensions mean pensions and we need a pensions minister to look after them (and us).

Personal pensions represent a tiny slither of the income breakdown for single pensioners. Occupational schemes (mainly public sector) provide about a quarter of retirement wealth but the vast majority of income in retirement is paid through state benefits – the Single State Pension and Pension Credits.

But pensioners are not productive and are not key to the growth agenda so they are (in the big picture) financially excluded. There was nothing in the mini-budget affecting pensions as payments to older people. We had mention of relaxations of solvency and charge cap regulations to make it easier for pensions to fund growth, we hear that those approaching retirement who were out of the labour market would be required to work or lose universal credit and we’ve heard from Therese Coffey that doctors will be encouraged with sexy cash to stay in work – without accruing pensions.

But on the big pensioner issues – SPA, the Single State Pension mispayments, the net pay injustice, pension credit take-up, expat state pension increases , WASPI- nothing! All these issues have – so far – been excluded from the debate as the focus is solely on what grows the economy.

But the pensioners and the over 50s will not go away. They will need to be heard as they represent an important part of the constituency that could re-vote Liz Truss for a second term in 2024. Being excluded is not something they are likely to vote for.

While I run one fintech (AgeWage) and chair another (Pension PlayPen), I intend to make sure that pensions are more than a means to fund growth and are managed for the good of those who are now – or will be – old enough to benefit from the growth they have created.

Older people are not a problem for the growth agenda, they are what we pursue growth for!


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
This entry was posted in pensions and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Is there space for “financial inclusion” in the rush for growth?

  1. Dr+Robin+Rowles says:

    I am amused by your comment that pensioners are not productive. In my experience (board menbers of a large UK company) company executives aren’t productive either, so why are they being given more money, more money which, in truth, should be being given to pensioners. After all, we all know that if the main board were missing for months on end the company would continue to function as usual, whereas if the staff who keep the toilets clean are missing for a fortnight, everyone would stop working and the company would close down!

  2. henry tapper says:

    I expected to get pushback on that comment, but not that pushback – Robin!

    It’s ironic that it’s in the 65-75 cohort that we are seeing the higherst proportion of people returning to work. But of course, it’s a cohort which doesn’t expect to work.

Leave a Reply