Guy Opperman to remain as minister for pensions and financial inclusion

24 December 2019

Guy Opperman, one of the main contributors to the Pensions Schemes Bill mentioned in both speeches delivered by the Queen this year, has retained his parliamentary seat of Hexham and has been reappointed as the minister for pensions and financial inclusion.

Mr Opperman is the second-longest serving pensions minister behind Sir Steve Webb, who served between 2010 and 2015, as he took the role in June 2017 and so has over two years’ worth of service within this position. There is, however, speculation that there will be a major cabinet reshuffle in February 2020 after the proposals to officially leave the EU on January 31, so this could potentially jeopardise his future in the role.

He was instrumental in the formation of the Pensions Scheme Bill which discusses rules relating to pensions dashboards, collective defined contribution schemes and which also promises to award greater powers to The Pensions Regulator (TPR) to enable it to tackle non-compliance.  Mr. Opperman confirmed that he was ‘regretful’ that the general election postponed progression relating to the bill but maintained that it would be revisited as there was cross-party support for it.

There seemed to be widespread support for Mr. Opperman’s reappointment, as reported by Pensions Expert. The partner at pensions consultancy LCP, David  Everett, commented that it was :

“Encouraging for a post in which continuity over the years has been sadly lacking. But with the prospect of a major reshuffle the other side of Brexit, whether Mr Opperman will be around to steer the Pension Schemes Bill through parliament and to engage with all the consequential regulations yet to come, remains to be seen.”

The director of policy at The People’s Pension, Gregg McClymeont said:

“Pensions are a long-term project and it is crucial to have continuity in policy approach. The minister’s focus must be on building on the huge success of auto-enrolment by bringing more workers under the scheme.

 Lowering the minimum age from 22 to 18, decreasing the earnings threshold from £10,000 to the primary national insurance threshold, and calculating people’s pension contributions from the first pound they earn could put billions more into savers’ pension pots.

 It is also crucial that the government comes good on its manifesto pledge and provides a firm timeline to review the tax flaw that’s depriving more than 1.7m lower earners of much-needed tax relief on their pension contributions. Fairness demands this issue is fixed.”

 


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