Pensions  

Opperman reinstated as pensions minister

Opperman reinstated as pensions minister

Guy Opperman remains minister for pensions and financial inclusion after being re-elected as MP for Hexham.

Mr Opperman, who was appointed to the role in June 2017, is already the second-longest serving pensions minister, behind Sir Steve Webb, now director of policy at Royal London, who held the position between 2010 and 2015.

According to media reports, a much more extensive cabinet reshuffle is planned for early February, after the UK has formally left the EU on January 31.

Mr Opperman was one of the architects of the Pension Schemes Bill, announced in the Queen Speech, which included long-awaited rules around pension dashboards, collective defined contribution schemes, and new powers for the Pensions Regulator.

In October, he said it was “regretful” that a general election had got in the way of the bill, but stressed it would come back as there was cross party support for it.

According to David Everett, partner at pensions consultancy LCP, Mr Opperman staying in the role was "encouraging for a post in which continuity over the years has been sadly lacking”. 

He added: “But with the prospect of a major reshuffle the other side of Brexit, whether Mr Opperman will be around to steer the Pension Schemes Bill through parliament and to engage with all the consequential regulations yet to come, remains to be seen.

“We hope that the bill will getting a passing mention during the pared down Queen’s Speech on Thursday and that we will see it once more in the early New Year.”

Gregg McClymont, director of policy at The People's Pension, said “pensions are a long-term project and it is crucial to have continuity in policy approach”.

He added: “The minister’s focus must be on building on the huge success of auto-enrolment by bringing more workers under the scheme.

“Lowering the minimum age from 22 to 18; decreasing the earnings threshold from £10,000 to the primary National Insurance threshold and calculating people’s pension contribution from the first pound they earn could put billions more into savers pension pots.

“It's also crucial that the government comes good on its manifesto pledge and provides a firm timeline to review the tax flaw that's depriving more than 1.7m lower earners of much-needed tax relief on their pension contributions. Fairness demands this issue is fixed.”

maria.espadinha@ft.com

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