11 July 2024

Pensions Minister ‘will have her hands full’ as she gets stuck into dual role

11 July 2024

Industry bodies have welcomed the appointment of Emma Reynolds as Pensions Minister but said she will have her “hands full”.

Jon Greer, head of retirement policy at wealth manager Quilter said: “We hope Labour’s huge majority will give it enough cover to sensibly plan reform and improve upon the current regime where possible.”

The state pension triple lock, which guarantees the state pension rises each year in line with inflation, earnings or by 2.5% – whichever is higher – will be retained under Labour.

With such a healthy majority we would want to see bold action from Emma Reynolds to start a debate about the future of the triple lock

Some commentators have suggested that, while the triple lock provides a vital safety net for pensioner incomes, retaining it will be a challenge, given the ageing population and questions around intergenerational fairness.

Labour has also promised to “undertake a review of the pensions landscape to consider what further steps are needed to improve pension outcomes and increase investment in UK markets”.

Mr Greer added: “We know from Labour’s manifesto that the state pension triple lock will be maintained. But this is likely to come under more and more pressure, particularly given the state of public finances and demographic trends.

“We need policy that works for the long-term and a state pension uprating system that is pegged to average earnings would be a fairer option that should make the state pension sustainable for future generations. With such a healthy majority we would want to see bold action from Emma Reynolds to start a debate about the future of the triple lock and just how sustainable it can be.”

He said hopefully Ms Reynolds “can come in and provide some stability over the course of this parliament, especially when it is people’s retirement and ability to maintain living standards in old age that is at stake”.

Tackling the pension engagement crisis, the ever-growing advice gap, resolving the issue of small pots, and improving pension transfers are just a few of the critical areas that need attention

Lily Megson, policy director at My Pension Expert, said: “We hope this marks the beginning of a term that establishes clear, long-term pension policies.

“(Ms) Reynolds will have her hands full, needing to address the lengthy backlog of delayed policies and initiatives left by the previous government.

“The upcoming pensions review, as pledged in Labour’s manifesto, must be handled with precision. Tackling the pension engagement crisis, the ever-growing advice gap, resolving the issue of small pots, and improving pension transfers are just a few of the critical areas that need attention.”

Patrick Heath-Lay, chief executive officer of People’s Partnership, provider of the People’s Pension said: “It’s good to see the appointment of a new Minister for Pensions, bridging both the Treasury and DWP (Department for Work and Pensions).

“We hope that this leads to strong partnership working in this critical policy area. Joint working will be important for successful reform of workplace pensions and achievement of the Government’s wider objectives for the sector. We wish Emma Reynolds well in her new role.”

The new Pensions Minister must look to strike a balance between robust protections against scams and a smooth and expedient transfer process

Rachel Vahey, head of public policy at AJ Bell highlighted several issues “crying out for the new minister’s attention, including launching pensions dashboards to the public (which will enable people to see all their pensions in one place online) and considering the next stage of the flagship automatic enrolment reforms”.

“At some stage the state pension will also likely need to be looked at.”

On Wednesday, Ms Reynolds posted on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Delighted to spend my first day meeting other ministerial colleagues and officials in my new role as Pensions Minister in the Department of Work and Pensions.”

Ms Reynolds was appointed in a dual role as Parliamentary Secretary at the Treasury and the Department of Work and Pensions on Tuesday.

Becky O’Connor, director of public affairs at PensionBee, said: “To create a safe, fair and well-functioning pension system for everyone, the new Pensions Minister must look to strike a balance between robust protections against scams and a smooth and expedient transfer process.

“It’s time to move away from self-regulation and implement a ’10-day pension switch guarantee’.”

Patrick Luthi, CEO of NOW: Pensions said: “We welcome the plans from the new Government to undertake a pensions review. This provides a great opportunity to revisit the role of productive finance and ensuring members’ best interests are front and centre.”

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