BLOG: Don’t let pensions be a pawn of current political purgatory

Well folks, it’s been an enjoyable ride. This month’s edition of Pensions Age marks my last with the publication, so please do forgive me for getting a few things off my chest.

Over the past year and a half, from a pensions newbie perspective in any case, the industry has made at least some progress in areas that are going to add tangible benefits to members, including collective defined contribution (CDC), dashboard and faster transfer times, to name but a few.

This is not to say, however, that it hasn’t also taken its sweet time in getting to the bottom of important issues, particularly where government, or certain parts of the industry that enjoy the status quo, have been dragging their heels.

We all knew Brexit was going to throw a spanner in the works, so as Boris Johnson takes his place as the new Prime Minister, and the political volatility knob gets dailed up to ‘completely mental’, the industry might start to feel more tangible effects.

The most recent example of this Johnson's comments at the Tory leadership hustings hosted by The Telegraph. He described his ‘efforts’ of ‘repeatedly’ trying to persuade Chancellor Philip Hammond to address the £1.1m Lifetime Allowance limit on pensions savings currently ravaging the NHS.

There are two major problems here. Firstly, Johnson’s comments show that he clearly doesn’t understand the NHS issue, and secondly, quite simply, he’s lying.

Just in case you believed it in the first place, Hammond tweeted shortly after, saying that he had received no request to meet, or any correspondence over the issue from Johnson.

Not only does this immediately spark concern about the man that could become the leader of the country (don’t even get me started on The Telegraph’s shameless attempt to back their boy), but it also highlights how pensions can be used as a political tool to curry favour.

The current political mess means that the pensions bill has suffered delays, but not only that, Shadow Pensions Minister Jack Dromey let it slip recently that it will in fact be a watered-down version, in order to get it through the door without any further delays.

This is bad news for the industry, but so far, the reaction has been far too muted.

Surely it is not just pensions that finds itself at the mercy of a Brexit political meltdown, but the onus should now be on industry to ensure that firstly, it doesn’t let itself become a political pawn, and secondly, in the words of Dromey, “make your voice be known”. It is down to you, the industry, to apply the political pressure needed to bring forth the changes the industry needs.

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