Blog: Divisive Field would be a loss for pensions

Like Marmite, Work and Pensions Committee chair Frank Field appears to be a rather divisive character.

As the news broke about Field’s resignation as Labour Party whip, leanings of various political persuasions were either using it as a stick with which to beat him, that is, propping up Theresa May’s “extreme Tory Brexit plans”, or praising him as an individualist making his stand against the “scourge” of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party.

While the industry and the media hurried to understand what it meant for his role as committee chair, what did become clear is the void that would be left if his position as chair one way or another became untenable.

His voice, more than any, has been the leading one as the industry seemed to tip from crisis to crisis over the past three years.

Whether it was the collapse of huge pension schemes such as BHS and Carillion, pressing the Financial Reporting Council on the publication of its audit report, or taking on The Pensions Regulator, his sheer doggishness meant he developed a reputation of somebody you would not like to cross.

His tone could often be contentious and too forthright, but much of his actions have undoubtedly secured higher pensions benefits for many thousands of members.

His sheer experience and understanding of the industry means it will be a gargantuan task for anybody should they have to fill his boots – any proposed merger or acquisition, you could be assured he was there asking questions about their pension schemes.

Even within the pensions industry Field was able to divide opinion. As a reporter, Field had a gift of giving you a headline that had the ability of being both effective and causing a simultaneous eye roll throughout the office. Great when it works, while often verging on the point of contrition.

Besides the sensationalist tendencies, throughout his time as committee chair, Field has been on the front line, banging on the door when it comes to holding the government and the industry to account.

The full fall-out of his resignation is yet to be felt, as both sides of the political spectrum, even within the Labour Party, look to make it work for them.

Within this however, the loss of Field as the Work and Pensions Committee chair could be one that the industry rues long after he is gone. Let’s hope I’m speaking too soon.

Whatever your political persuasion, it is hard to deny the good work done by Field and team throughout his tenure, an industry figure who really does put the member first.

    Share Story:
Spotlight on pensions tracing: making huge strides in a changing world
Alex Mitchell, Head of Tracing & Data Solutions at Capita, meets Francesca Fabrizi, Editor in Chief of Pensions Age to discuss recent trends in the pensions tracing space

MAC strategies in focus
Francesca Fabrizi meets Craig Scordellis, Head of Long-Only Multi-Asset Credit at CQS, to discuss what MAC strategies can offer pension schemes today