Joint Treasury/DWP appointment ‘improves hope’ of joined-up pensions policy

The appointment of Wycombe MP, Emma Reynolds, to the role of Parliamentary Secretary across both the Treasury and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has sparked industry hope for more joined-up thinking on pension policy across the departments.

LCP partner and former Pensions Minister, Steve Webb, noted that many areas of pension policy are split between the DWP and Treasury.

As an example, the regulation of trust-based occupational pensions comes under the DWP and The Pensions Regulator (TPR), while the regulation of contract-based pensions provided by insurance companies falls into the Treasury and Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) remit.

Webb argued that having a single minister in charge of both could result in pension policy that is more coherent and fully considers the different types of pension arrangements used by workers in the UK.

Furthermore, Webb said, while it was subject to final confirmation, it was assumed that the joint Treasury/DWP role will cover the pensions brief and, therefore, Reynolds will be the new Pensions Minister.

The DWP has made several appointments since Labour’s general election win but, at the time of writing, we are yet to hear what their specific portfolios will be, including Pensions Minister.

MP for Birkenhead, Alison McGovern, and East Ham MP, Sir Stephen Timms, have been appointed as Minister of State’s in the DWP, while MP for Stretford and Urmston, Andrew Western, and Baroness Sherlock have been named as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of States in the department.

“There is much to be said in favour of a ministerial role which spans both HM Treasury and the DWP In the past, the two departments have not always been ‘joined up’ when it comes to pensions policy, with Treasury changes to pension tax relief sometimes undermining DWP efforts to boost pension saving,” Webb stated.

“With a combined appointment there is the opportunity for decisions on pensions to take full account of the whole pensions landscape.

“One risk however is that the Treasury desire to see pension assets used to promote economic growth at a macro level could mean that the individual member perspective gets less attention than it should. This is something that the new minister will have to guard against."

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