Industry ‘disappointed’ at ‘revolving door’ for DWP ministers

Written by Natalie Tuck

Several industry voices have expressed their disappointment at Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to replace David Gauke as Work and Pensions Secretary so soon after his appointment.

Gauke, who has been promoted to Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, has been replaced by MP for Tatton Esther Mcvey. On the new appointment, Barnett Waddingham senior consultant Malcolm McLean said the “revolving door for DWP Ministers is beginning another spin”.

“With the new incumbent now in post we will have had five secretaries of state since the start of the Conservative government in May 2015 and as many as 14 under different governments since 1997. This is a high turnover and the government is not giving ministers enough time in the post to get to grips with the issues

“It is particularly disappointing that it has been found necessary to move David Gauke on after a little more than six months in the job. His background and experience in the Treasury was widely seen as a valuable addition to a department desperately in need of consolidation and respite after several years of upheaval and turbulence, especially in the pensions sphere.”

In addition, Old Mutual Wealth head of retirement Jon Greer said it is disappointing that “one of the most important jobs in government, which has a huge bearing on people’s financial wellbeing, has become a merry-go-round”. This thought was shared by Royal London director of policy Steve Webb who said it was “deeply disappointing” that Gauke has been moved from his role in charge of UK pensions policy.

With some advice for the new Secretary of State, deVere Group chief executive Nigel Green said Mcvey must not fall into the trap of “tinkering around with the pension system and pension policy”. He urged McVey to engage fully with the pensions industry and pension savers on any future changes in order to ensure that the current and forthcoming challenges are successfully addressed and met, the policy fundamentals are right, and that any errors of the past are put right in a measured, balanced and just way.

However, the Liberal Democrat spokesman for Work and Pensions, MP Stephen Lloyd has challenged the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to “strike a blow for fairness” in her new role. In particular, he has advised McVey that the plight of Waspi women needs to be “top of the in-tray”.

“It’s clear that all the political parties in government comprehensively failed these women. A lamentable lack of communication right from the original pensions act in 1994 has left many of them – Waspi women - feeling let down, ignored and totally under-valued. This injustice must be urgently addressed.

“The most practical way of doing so would be for the DWP to make a sizeable transition payment to each of the affected women to the tune of £15,000 payable immediately, tax free. It won’t make up for all the loss but I believe it will be seen as a genuine attempt by the government to make amends for the shambolic roll-out of the increase in women’s pension age way back from the very beginning, in the mid 1990’s.”

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