New pensions minister Ros Altmann has promised to take forward work bringing in the new state pension, help millions more to be enrolled into good quality workplace pension schemes, and safeguard the freedom and choice at-retirement reforms.
Ms Altmann, a well regarded consumer champion whose appointment was confirmed earlier this week after being lined up for a peerage by prime minister David Cameron’s new Conservative administration, stating she was “delighted” to be able to influence policy from within government.
“My priorities are clear: to strengthen British pensions, improve later life incomes, and protect the pensioners of today and tomorrow,” she said.
More pension firms took the opportunity to outline their requests for her tenure, following an initial barrage of suggestions on Tuesday (12 May).
Darren Laverty, sales and marketing director at Foster Denovo, said that she needs to create real stability. “The last few years have been turbulent for employers and employees alike, with a raft of pensions changes.
“It will also be interesting to see what possible changes Altmann makes in respect of the lifetime allowance, which she has previously criticised as being ‘bad policy’, and ‘sending the wrong message’ to savers.”
David Smith, financial planning director at Tilney Bestinvest, listed removing the lifetime allowance, considering the introduction of flat rate tax relief, introducing pension flexibility for defined benefit scheme members, creating a lifetime pension fund and a transferable annual allowances, as his requests.
Morten Nilsson, chief executive of Now: Pensions, added the removal of qualifying earnings, establishing cross-party consensus on automatic transfers and considering automatic escalation of pension contributions to the list.
“Ros Altmann has some big shoes to fill, but she is one of the most recognisable voices in pensions,” he stated. “It is critical that she engages well with the industry and that she can help push through the many initiatives launched by Steve Webb that still need a lot work and consideration to be delivered successfully.
Malcolm McLean, senior consultant at Barnett Waddingham, added that having an unelected new peer as the pension minister was bound to attract criticism from some quarters, so Ms Altmann will have to accept that her position within government will not now allow her the luxury of claiming to be an independent consumer champion and criticising Conservative policies from outside.
“Having said that, I wish her well in her new role and I’m sure she will rise to the challenge and bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to it.”