PLSA 2019: Pensions Bill has cross-party support - Opperman

Pensions Minister Guy Opperman has said the government is taking forward the Pensions Scheme Bill "with cross-party support”.

Opperman was due to speak at the PLSA’s Annual Conference today, 17 October, but had to pull out due to parliamentary duties. Instead he sent a short video message with a summary of the contents of the new bill.

The much anticipated bill was launched in the Queen's Speech, which took place earlier this week.

In his video address, he said: “At a time when parliament is divided, some would say, on other matters, I’m pleased to say that we are taking forward the bill’s reform with cross-party support and general consensus amongst parliamentarians and stakeholders alike. Consensus is vital to the bill.”

He also said that the government has consulted “extensively with The Pensions Regulator and various partners” whilst formulating the bill.

“We believe very strongly that the bill shows how we will ensure that there is nowhere to hide for any reckless boss that puts workers’ retirement savings at risk, it reforms DB. It will bring pensions into the digital age with the pensions dashboard to give savers plain facts at their fingertips in one place online and we’re going to reform pensions by way of collective defined contributions,” he explained.

Opperman added that we need to have “confidence” in the pensions system, and a "better structure for the regulator taking this forward”.

He said: “Doing nothing in my view is not an option, and that’s why we have consulted and that’s why we have brought forward the bill. Now there are greater protections for members, which include new civil and criminal sanctions to punish bosses who wilfully or recklessly harm company pension schemes. The introduction of the dashboard will help people further reconnect with their pension pots by making it easier to see their pensions information in one place and we want people to be able to better plan for retirement, not just with confidence but knowing that their pension savings are protected.

“This bill will provide more options for employers by introducing CDCs; these schemes will ensure that people can save adequately for retirement and better predict their income in later life. The bill provides appropriate legislative and regulatory framework for the new CDCs, which enable contributions to be pooled and invested to give members a target benefit level. It has benefits for both members and employers. All of these measures ensure that savers can be confident that their pensions are protected and the regulator will take action if pension savings are put at risk.”

Opperman also said he supports the work the industry is doing to make better planning and saving towards retirement. “We have transferred saving for retirement for millions of people and the next challenge is to make it easier for them to engage more with their pensions,” he said.

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