Coffey next through the W&P Secretary ‘revolving door’ – industry reacts

The role of Work and Pensions Secretary has been described as a “revolving door” and a “poisoned chalice” as the pensions industry reacts to the appointment of Thérèse Coffey.

On Saturday (7 September), Amber Rudd announced her resignation as Work and Pensions Secretary, saying she could not stand by while “loyal moderate Conservatives” were expelled from the party.

She was replaced by MP for Suffolk Coastal and ex-Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Thérèse Coffey, who has been warned by Quilter head of retirement policy, Jon Greer, that she is inheriting a “poisoned chalice”.

“The news that Amber Rudd has resigned from the cabinet means that we will soon be hailing in our seventh work and pension’s secretary since 2016 which is both a laughable and lamentable statistic,” he continued.

“It’s simply impossible for the public to have faith in any enacted policy when the leadership of the department chops and changes so frequently. The only hope is that the next minister stays for more than one calendar year.

“The next secretary will inherit a poisoned chalice which will potentially be even more toxic than the one Amber Rudd was presented with, thanks to a whole host of pressing problems.”

Royal London pension specialist, Helen Morrissey, agreed that there was a host of pressing concerns for Coffey to attend to, and that she should do so as quickly as possible.

She commented: “This news shows the revolving door at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) continues to turn with yet another new secretary of state being appointed.

“There will be a lot of large projects in Therese Coffey’s in-tray, including the pensions dashboard and pension scams that are not progressing as quickly as they should.

“While she will need time to get to grips with her new brief, we urge her to progress these as quickly as possible.”

Although there has been much chopping and changing in the Work and Pensions Secretary role, with seven in the past four years, Aegon director of pensions, Steven Cameron, noted that Pensions Minister Guy Opperman had provided some stability.

Cameron said: “We hope this means we’ll see no more delays from Thérèse Coffey on important priorities including pension dashboards and ‘default’ pensions for the self-employed.

“The DWP also needs to work urgently with Treasury on key pensions tax issues including making sure non-tax payers all get the pension tax relief they are entitled to.

“And we also need an urgent review annual and lifetime allowances to avoid the ridiculous situation which sees higher paid NHS professionals giving up work to avoid big tax bills on pension contributions.”

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