Pensions  

Pension industry welcomes Opperman reappointment

Pension industry welcomes Opperman reappointment
 Guy Opperman, pension minister

Experts across the industry have expressed their relief at Guy Opperman being reappointed as pensions minister saying it brings continuity and reassurance that positive reforms will be made over the coming year.

Mr Opperman’s reappointment came this morning (February 14) following a government reshuffle which saw a raft of ministers lose their cabinet jobs, including Sajid Javid who resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr Javid has been replaced by Rishi Sunak, MP for Richmond in Yorkshire, who was chief secretary to the Treasury under Boris Johnson.

The reshuffle also saw Esther McVey, housing minister, and Andrea Leadsom, business secretary lose their cabinet jobs, alongside Northern Ireland secretary Julian Smith and attorney general Geoffrey Cox.

Ms McVey was replaced by Christopher Pincher and Ms Leadsom was replaced by Alok Sharma.

Meanwhile Thérèse Coffey has been reappointed as secretary of state for pensions.

Taking to Twitter Mr Opperman said: “Delighted to be re-appointed by the PM as minister for pensions and financial inclusion. We’ve already achieved a lot, but there is lots more to crack on with. 

“Top priorities are [getting] the Pension Schemes Bill through the House of Commons and continuing progress on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance).”

Mr Opperman said the Pension Schemes Bill will reach the House of Commons by Easter and will introduce pension dashboards, require schemes to take account of climate risks, as well as establish collective defined benefit schemes and give the Pensions Regulator enhanced powers.

Pension provider Aviva welcomed the news saying “continuity in government allows us all to maintain the positive momentum”.

Tom McPhail, head of policy at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Guy’s good natured tenacity has been very effective in progressing projects within the department and across the industry. 

“The highlight is the pensions bill but also the ESG agenda, financial capability, and consumer focused improvements to standards. We look forward to continuing to work with him.”

Stephen Lowe, director at Just Group, said: “The minister and his team have a full agenda in 2020 and a clear focus to execute and get stuff done. Building trust in long term savings and helping people to achieve a sustainable income in retirement are critical outcomes and we look forward to supporting that agenda.”

Adam Saron, chief executive officer of Clara Pensions, said he was grateful for Mr Opperman’s  recognition that DB consolidation results in safer pensions. 

He added: “His support for making consolidation available to employers, trustees and members has been very welcome. We look forward to continuing to work with him.”

Kate Smith, head of pensions at Aegon, said: “This gives continuity of pensions policy particularly around the long awaited pensions dashboard. Items on the long list of pension priorities include ESG, simpler annual benefit statements and protecting members from fraudsters. 

“We’re keen that other policy initiatives aren’t kicked into the long grass such as improvements to auto-enrolment.”

amy.austin@ft.com