“The role of pensions minister has been used in a game of musical chairs for some time now. Where there has been stability, such as with Sir Steve Webb, the pensions minister until 2015, there was continuity around the delivery of auto-enrolment, which has probably been the single most important measure in decades in terms of promoting a savings culture.
“With Richard Harrington moving into a new role and Guy Opperman taking up the position of parliamentary under-secretary we are set for yet another minister overseeing pensions policy. It means 12 ministers have taken the reins on pensions since the turn of the century. Only the football management merry-go-round can compete for short-lived appointments, although even Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal combined have only had 11 managers between them in the same period!
“Pension tax relief and the state pension account for an enormous proportion of public spending. The future of the state pension is in limbo with the triple-lock and state pension age up in the air. Savings policy desperately needs continuity to offer clarity over the role of the Lifetime Isa; to give effective stewardship of the future of pensions tax relief; and a ministerial team capable of ensuring the self-employed save for retirement, which was a Tory manifesto commitment we hope will be delivered during this Parliament.
“There is a strong case for government to establish a cross-party independent commission, similar to Adair Turner’s pension commission of the early 2000s. Retirement and savings policy is by its very nature a long-term matter, with policy decisions today having a ripple effect into the future and across generations. Savers and the pensions industry can’t afford for government to make mistakes on key pensions policy and establishing a consultative approach to policymaking via an independent commission would be responsible step for any government to take if they are serious about building a healthy and sustainable savings culture.”