I want to be a champion for savings and pensions. I made this clear in my inaugural speech at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association annual conference in October and it continues to apply. With that in mind, as we look ahead to 2018 I am focused on a number of key challenges we must address to improve our pension savings system.
As FTAdviser readers will know, automatic enrolment has transformed the savings culture, with 9 million people now enrolled into a workplace pension. But it is clear that our work is not yet complete here.
That’s why we published our review of automatic enrolment earlier this month. Our next step is to address the diversity of the 4.8 million people who are self-employed, with the launch of a series of trials to establish how to meet their needs in saving for a financially secure retirement next year.
Given the millions of new savers through automatic enrolment, it is important that people know what support is available when managing their personal finances.
I’m very proud to be working on the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill, which will create a clear, single financial guidance body, bringing together the existing services provided by Pension Wise, The Pension Advisory Service and Money Advice Service. The Bill is progressing well through Parliament and is expected to finish its journey early next year.
In line with encouraging greater engagement with pensions savings, I am delighted that the DWP is now taking forward ambitious plans for the pensions dashboard.
This will help people better understand their pensions and make informed decisions about how to fund their retirement, all through one secure online location.
Working closely with a broad range of stakeholders, I am determined to move quickly and effectively on its development. We are currently leading a feasibility study to ensure consumer interests are properly safeguarded, and we expect to publish our findings in March.
We will also launch our white paper on the defined benefit pensions sector early next year. There have been individual difficulties, but the vast majority of schemes are continuing to help in providing a secure retirement for millions of people.
Finally, last month we confirmed that master trust pension schemes will need to meet five key tests in order to continue operating. The new ‘authorisation and supervision regime’ will ensure that consumers and master trusts alike will be strengthened by requiring the latter to meet strict criteria on all aspects of operations and governance. I expect that the new regulations will come into effect from October.
With the pension savings landscape changing so quickly, it is essential that government and industry work closely together. I would like to wish FTAdviser readers a happy Christmas. I look forward to working with many of you over the next year.
Guy Opperman is the minister for pensions and financial inclusion