Opperman leaves role as Pensions Minister

Guy Opperman is no longer Pensions Minister following Prime Minister, Liz Truss’s, ministerial reshuffle.

He was the longest serving Pensions Minister in the UK’s history but was not reappointed by Truss.

Confirming the decision on Twitter, Opperman said that he was “no longer a minister” and that he will be focusing on his constituency, his duties as a backbench MP and his new baby.

He became the longest serving Pensions Minister on 11 June 2022, having surpassed Steve Webb's total of 1,822 days.

Opperman resigned from his role on 7 July 2022 amid mass resignations in government over Boris Johnson's Prime Ministership, before being reinstated the following day after Johnson's resignation.

In a letter to fellow MPs, Opperman said that serving as a government minister for the past seven years was the honour of his life.

He thanked Department for Work and Pensions officials who worked "tirelessly to ensure UK pensions are secured for the future".

"There remains much for my successor to do, from expanding automatic enrolment, to professional trustees, proper measurement of value for money, expanding superfunds, illiquid investment and CDCs, and ensuring we have a much better system for individual defined contribution retirement planning," he stated.

"I will be fully supportive of the new teams and forever grateful to have had the chance to serve."

Opperman oversaw several pension policy changes during his time, most notably the development and passage of the Pension Schemes Act 2021.

The act introduced a number of policy initiatives, such as the framework for the introduction of pensions dashboards and collective defined contribution (CDC) schemes, the expansion of The Pensions Regulator’s (TPR’s) powers, and the requirement for schemes to adopt and report against the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

He also oversaw the introduction of new powers for trustees to halt pension transfers if they saw signs of a suspected scam.

Commenting on Opperman's departure, LCP partner and former Pensions Minister, Steve Webb, said: “After years of a revolving door for pensions ministers, it has been good to have a period of stability under Guy Opperman. And he has made progress in some key areas, laying the groundwork for CDC schemes to be introduced in the UK, moving us five years nearer to pensions dashboards and getting pension schemes to focus more on how their funds are invested from an ESG perspective.

"But regrettably there has been no progress in the last five years on the key area on boosting DC savings rates, with the 2017 review still gathering dust. There are also serious questions about whether the new DB funding regime is fit for purpose. The new minister will have much work to do to get these key areas moving again."

Broadstone techincal director, David Brooks, commented: “Looking back over the pensions career of Guy Opperman will mostly be a frustrating experience. His tenure was compromised by parliamentary time being hoovered up by Brexit and Covid-related issues.

“A case in point is the Pensions Act 2021 which began life as Pensions Bill 2019. While it eventually progressed covering primarily pensions dashboards, CDC and the new funding and notifiable events regime for DB schemes - the latter two are still not in force, the pensions dashboard activation is at least 3 years away and CDC is slowly but surely coming to fruition for one scheme.

“Guy had some big issues to get moving to change the UK pensions landscape and his frustration came out towards the end with the glacial progress of a leviathan-like industry. ESG, ongoing digitisation and rise in professionalisation will be some of the big ticket items for his successor to take forward.”

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