Quiet Queen’s Speech for pensions, McLean predicts

Written by Natalie Tuck

Conservative proposals to scrap the triple lock and introduce means testing for the winter fuel payment could be dropped as a result of the General Election result, making for a quiet Queen’s Speech for pensions.

The comments come from Barnett Waddingham senior consultant Malcolm Mclean, ahead of the delayed Queen’s Speech on Wednesday 21 June. The Conservatives had planned to means test the winter fuel payment and replace the triple lock with a double lock from 2020. However, after losing a majority in the election, the party has now reached an agreement with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist’s Party (DUP) to support them in government. In its manifesto the DUP pledged to keep the triple lock.

“It will be interesting to see if anything on pensions from the Conservative’s recent election manifesto will be carried forward. As a minority government, they will naturally be concerned to avoid significant areas of controversy. This could mean they drop both of their original proposals to end the state pension triple lock from 2020 and to introduce means-testing to the universal winter fuel payment,” McLean said.

“It is also likely that changes to social care arrangements, dubbed the ‘dementia tax’, will be shelved. If, as expected, the government does not respond to the Cridland Report, and brings forward changes to the state pension age within the next government term, there will be no need for the Queen to refer to this in the Queen’s Speech.

Furthermore, he noted that there will need to be a new over-arching Finance Bill, which could include the items dropped at the last minute from the previous Bill, curtailed to ensure it passed into law before the election campaign began. These include the reduction in the Money Purchase Annual Allowance from £10,000 to £4,000 and an increased Financial Advice Allowance. There will also be a need to bring forward legislation to ban cold-calling for pension scams.

“It is possible that provision will be made for a new Social Security Bill for any necessary changes to defined benefit pension schemes following the recent green paper. However, at this stage it is unlikely that the detailed content can or will be set out. Given the legislative demands of Brexit, the Great Repeal Bill, and the fact most commentators do not expect the new parliament to run for a full five year term, this could be one of the quietest Queen’s Speech on pensions for many years.”

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