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Pensions ‘in turmoil’ as minister resigns

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07/07/2022
The implementation of the pensions dashboard and the lower minimum age for auto-enrolment are now in doubt following the resignation of the pensions minister, Guy Opperman.

In his letter to the prime minister, Opperman wrote that it is with “deep regret” that he must resign.

He wrote: “It has been the honour of my life to serve as a government minister, under three successive prime ministers including these last five years as pensions minister.

“I backed you in January 2022 because I wanted to see a real change in approach in Number 10. Sadly, recent events have shown clearly that government simply cannot function with you in charge. In good faith, and with regret, for the good of the country, I must ask you to stand down.”

The letter continued: “I am proud of what we have achieved at the DWP. I want to put on record my thanks to the DWP civil servants and ministerial teams I have worked with to produce and pass five acts of parliament, grow workplace and state pensions to record levels, and passing the ground-breaking Pensions Schemes Act that dramatically reforms pensions in the UK. I could go on, and there is much more reform I would have like to have done, but I have to ask you to step aside.

“It is therefore with deep regret that I resign from your government.”

‘Every day delayed puts dashboard in jeopardy’

Kate Smith, head of pensions at Aegon, said the pensions minister’s resignation leaves pensions in turmoil.

“He was personally leading a number of initiatives to improve pensions engagement including the pension dashboard and the pension engagement season. We had been expecting the government response to the DWP pension dashboard consultation with final regulations any day and everything hangs off this, including the timetable for schemes to connect to dashboards. Every day delayed puts the smooth implementation of the dashboard in jeopardy.

“Initiatives to improve member engagement with their pensions were gathering momentum. These need to continue at pace to help improve understanding of pensions.”

Smith added: “Crucially, the minister’s resignation could also impact the next steps for auto-enrolment, including lowering the minimum age from 22 to 18 and basing minimum contributions from the first pound, as well as finding solutions for the self-employed.

“Only this week, the pensions minister recommitted to implementing these in the mid-2020s, and suggested increasing the minimum contributions from 8% to 12% over time. All of this could now be in jeopardy.”

Since Tuesday evening when chancellor Rishi Sunak and health secretary Sajid Javid announced their resignation, more than 50 other MPs have handed in their resignations.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson who won a landslide victory in 2019, is expected to confirm his departure today.

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