Updated: Laura Trott moved to Treasury; Opperman moved to transport

MP for Sevenoaks, Laura Trott, is no longer Pensions Minister following Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak’s, latest ministerial reshuffle, having been appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Trott was elected as the Conservative MP for Sevenoaks in December 2019 and appointed to the post of Pensions Minister in November 2022, marking her first government post at the time.

During her time as Pensions Minister, Trott oversaw a number of key milestones, including the authorisation of the UK’s first collective defined contribution (CDC), a raft of defined contribution (DC) and defined benefit (DB) reforms, and extensions to automatic enrolment.

Trott had also previously served in Downing Street from 2011-2016 advising the then Prime Minister, David Cameron.

News of her departure from the role was confirmed as part of a broader reshuffle, which also saw the return of former Prime Minister, David Cameron, who was appointed as Foreign Secretary after James Cleverly was appointed as Home Secretary.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Victoria Atkins, has also been appointed as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, while Steve Barclay has been appointed Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Former Pensions Minister, Guy Opperman, has also been moved from the DWP to the Department for Transport, where he will be a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State

Commenting on the move on X (formerly Twitter), Opperman stated: "Leaving the DWP. Have done nearly 8 years as Whip, Pensions Minister and Employment Minister under 4 Prime Ministers. A real honour to have served.

"Moving to another department, but just finished packing up and thanking my wonderful private office team."

Trott's replacement as Pensions Minister has not yet been confirmed, although a number of new appointments to the DWP have been announced.

In particular, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, Paul Maynard, has been appointed as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the DWP.

Maynard was previously a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport from July 2019 to February 2020 and, prior to this, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice from May 2019 to July 2019.

In addition to this, MP for Bury St Edmunds, Jo Churchill, has been appointed Minister of State for the DWP.

She was previously Vice Chamberlain of HM Household (Government Whip) between September 2022 and November 2023, also previously acting as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs between September 2021 and July 2022.

Industry organisations have praised Trott for the progress made during her tenure, with Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) director of policy and advocacy, Nigel Peaple, stating that Trott "made a very substantial impact as pensions minister despite only being in the role for a little over a year".

He continued: "Her support for the recent Private Members bill paving the way for automatic enrolment to apply from the first pound of earnings and to lower the starting age from 22 to 18, once implemented, will improve the retirements of millions of savers.

“Her proposals to require more support from pension schemes for defined contribution members at retirement will also have a lasting impact, provided it is followed through.

"And, of course, she has also done a great deal of thinking with her DWP team on the future direction of the pensions landscape which, depending on the views of whoever succeeds her, may also have a lasting legacy.”

This sentiment was shared by People’s Partnership director of policy, Phil Brown, who stated: “While we congratulate Laura Trott on her important new role, we are sorry to see her move from being Minister for Pensions – a position she made her own, thanks to her energy and obvious passion for the brief.

“Her engaging approach to the role has led to significant policy change. It’s vital that her successor continues this work by pushing ahead with the implementation of these proposed changes.”

Adding to this, Aegon head of pensions, Kate Smith, agreed that despite her short tenure, Trott “packed a lot into a relatively short time in her ambition to deliver ‘fairer, more predictable and better run pensions’, including work on the Value for Money Framework, small pots and collective defined contribution pension schemes, and the drive towards scheme consolidation.

“Many of these initiatives have been intertwined with the Chancellor’s interest in encouraging pension schemes to invest in private equity to boost economic growth,” she continued.

However, Smith noted that much of this is still ‘work in progress’, warning that with no Pensions Bill included in the King’s Speech, or in sight, delivering these initiatives could be some years off.

Concerns over the impact of the ministerial reshuffle on proposed pension reforms have also emerged more broadly, with Quilter head of retirement policy, Jon Greer, arguing that “pension policy suffers when it is subject to the whims of political reshuffling”.

“With yet a new pensions minister soon to be in post the frequent changes in the individual holding the ministerial role continue to make it difficult for the UK to have any coherent policies when it comes to pensions,” he continued.

“While investment into productive capital surely is still a very important mission for this
government, pensions don’t appear to be a top priority for the government as in just a few days we have had confirmation of no pensions bill to take forward important policy proposals and we will now have yet another new pensions minister.

“This omission in the King’s Speech is a telling sign that pension policy may not receive the attention it requires in the immediate future. Instead, it appears that the government may place pension reforms on hold, likely due to prioritising other agenda items ahead of the general election.

“Such a move risks leaving pensioners and those nearing retirement in a state of uncertainty, as the complexity and importance of pension schemes demand consistent oversight and innovation to remain robust against future economic and demographic challenges.”

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