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Pensions Bill unlikely before the autumn

09 Jun 2019, 08:39 ... he-autumn/

The current leadership race in the Conservative party will push back Guy Opperman's Pensions Bill to at least the autumn, experts have predicted.

In October, Mr Opperman said he was planning to introduce a comprehensive private Pension Bill this year, which should mark the end of tinkering with pensions for a "considerable period of time".

To do so, the bill must be included in the Queen's speech, the formal mechanism for announcing the government's legislative priorities for the upcoming session.

However, Brexit and prime minister Theresa May’s decision to step down as leader of the Conservative party made it difficult for the bill emerge before the summer recess, according to David Everett, partner at pensions consultancy LCP.

He said: "For good order, it needs to be announced in the Queen's speech, which will be written by the next PM, and we won’t have a new PM before the end of July.

"And I suspect the only thing the PM can do is appoint his or her new cabinet, and they will spend the summer working out its government priorities."

Parliament will come back in the autumn when it will be immediately disrupted by party conferences, Mr Everett noted.

"So, I don’t think we are going see a Queen's speech before October," he concluded.

Mr Opperman, minister for pensions and financial inclusion, said this week at the Association of British Insurers conference that the Pensions Bill will be delivered this year.

Mr Everett said: "The new government might surprise us and have a Queen's speech in September.

"But it is going to be delayed, and we are also working on the assumptions that the government will survive any no confidence motions put down. We just don’t know."

Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, has the same view.

He said: "As well as dividing the nation, Brexit has taken up so much government time that key social policy initiatives have been put on indefinite hold.

"Further hiatus has been sparked by the Conservative leadership battle and with little time for Mrs May’s successor to come up with a Brexit solution, the situation is unlikely to improve any time soon."

Among other things the Pensions Bill will bring forward legislation on pension dashboards, which will benefit pension savers by offering access to information on all of their private, workplace and state pensions through a single online portal.

Mr Cameron said: "While work continues ‘behind the scenes’, legislation is needed to compel all pension schemes and providers to make available the necessary information as otherwise, people will not have a full picture.

"Delays to this much-needed online snapshot of their current pension provision could stall people from taking advice on the action needed to get them on track for the retirement they aspire to."

Mr Cameron noted the bill was also expected to advance a new form of collective defined contribution scheme, one of which is currently being devised by Royal Mail together with the government.

He said: "Initially, it is only the Royal Mail which plan to offer this, so a delay here has much more limited impact.

"In fact, with the CDC concept proving highly controversial, its detractors could argue a delay provides more time to explore and address concerns."

The third likely delay is to protections for members of defined benefit schemes, including new penalties for employers and company directors who break the rules, new powers for The Pensions Regulator and new provisions for ‘superfunds’ set up to allow smaller DB schemes to become part of a larger entity.

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