Pensions  

Opperman hints at fresh pensions commission

Opperman hints at fresh pensions commission

Pensions minister Guy Opperman has suggested the government could back a new independent pensions commission to address a whole host of retirement issues.

Speaking at the Pensions and Benefits UK 2019 conference, organised by Professional Pensions, Mr Opperman revealed he could see “the force of effectively having a fresh pensions commission going forward”, to look at issues such as tax allowances and raising auto-enrolment minimum contributions.

This commission could look at issues such as deductions, solutions for the self-employed and how to address the gig economy in a digital tax world, he noted.

He said pension transfers and freedoms could also be added to the mix “to have a proper pensions commission discussion”.

The last pensions commission was set up by government in 2002, chaired by Adair Turner, which reported between 2004 and 2006.

Pension experts have already welcome Mr Opperman’s suggestion.

Darren Philp, director of policy and communications at workplace pension provider Smart Pension, said: “This is a very welcome signal from the minister. While there has been great progress made since the Turner Pension Commission's report in 2005, a lot has changed, not least the leaps and bounds we've made in technological innovation.

“It would be great to step back and consider the pensions landscape in the round and ensure we have a system that is continually improving and is fit for the future.”

Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell, argued the platform has long campaigned for an independent commission to review the pension tax regime, with the “aim of simplifying the system and encouraging more people to take responsibility for their retirement”.

He said: “We currently have three different annual allowances and a lifetime allowance, all of which need to be explained to potential savers.

“It’s no wonder many people simply switch off or decide something they think is simpler – such as investing in property – is a better option.”

Mr Selby noted that it would make sense for this matter to be analysed in concurrence with reviews of other parts of the system, such as raising auto-enrolment contributions and boosting saving among the self-employed.

He said: “Given millions of people save in Isas alongside pensions, the government should consider looking at this increasingly complicated part of the market as well.

“If such a wide-ranging review is to succeed, it must command cross-party support and come with a commitment to stability over the long-term.

“Simplification can only endure if politicians agree not to constantly tinker with the rules in the future.”

maria.espadinha@ft.com

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