Following Esther McVey’s announcement that she will be resigning as Work and Pensions Secretary, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) leadership has been described “as stable as a mobile home in a hurricane” by Quilter head of retirement policy, Jon Greer.
McVey’s departure comes at a tumultuous time for the government, as the fallout from Theresa May’s Brexit deal has prompted multiple resignations, and there are concerns from industry members that pensions policy could be left by the roadside in all of the chaos:
“There are some big ticket issues that cannot be ignored for much longer, such as the future of the state-pension, gaps in auto-enrolment and the pension dashboard among many others. However, it seems all this will continue to be on the backburner as Brexit sits center stage at Westminster,” Greer added.
Other industry members voiced their concern about the future of the pensions dashboard and the impact ongoing Brexit negotiations could have on other policy making. Broadstone technical director, David Brooks commented:
“What happens with the dashboard is anyone’s guess. It appears to have cross-party support in principle so hopefully it’s far enough down the line to make it through. However, it is the length and depth of the Brexit paralysis which will now determine the timetable of feasibility study and then real progress.”
Lincoln Pensions managing director, Alex Hutton-Mills also voiced his concern about future pensions legislation:
“Turmoil around Brexit continues to affect DB pension schemes; and the likely outcome is anything but clear. The sponsor covenant has to continually underwrite any ongoing funding volatility and now, more than ever, trustees should have actionable contingency plans in place to protect member benefits.”
He also detailed his worries about the impact McVey’s departure could have on DB consolidation: “Esther McVey’s resignation could disrupt DWP’s involvement in the impending consultation on DB consolidation. Given the potential for consolidation to improve member security in certain circumstances, any further delay would be unfortunate.”
McVey’s resignation comes after only 10 months in the position and she leaves behind a lot of unfinished legislation for her successor to resolve, as Royal London director of policy, Steve Webb explained:
“Whoever succeeds Esther McVey at the DWP will have a lot to do as they continue work on Universal Credit and disability benefits. As a result, they will have little time to shape pensions policy. With this in mind the key people shaping pensions policy will remain Treasury and the DWP’s pension minister.”