Following today’s news that Alex Burghart MP (pictured) has been appointed as the new minister for pensions and growth, working alongside Chloe Smith MP, who is the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pensions specialists have been sharing their reaction to the news with IFA Magazine commenting:
Jon Greer, head of retirement policy at Quilter has shared his thoughts on the new minister for pensions and growth appointment, pointing out that Burghart has ‘big shoes to fill’ as follows:
“Opperman already resigned from the role of minister for pensions and financial inclusion in July and was just one of the avalanche that were submitted towards the end of Boris Johnson’s tumultuous time in Number 10. However, just days later Opperman was soon back once it was confirmed Johnson was leaving his post but only in a caretaker capacity. This means he might be both the longest and shortest serving pensions minister ever.
“In Liz Truss’ new government and with Chloe Smith now at the helm of the Department for Work and Pensions, Burghart takes on the role as minister for pensions and growth having previously been twice elected as MP for Brentwood and Ongar and was parliamentary under-secretary for the Department for Education between September 2021 and July 2022.
“Many of those who have taken on the role of pensions minister have seen it as a stepping stone to a job in the Treasury. It’s crucial that if Burghart does hold any such ambitions that they are put on the backburner for the foreseeable future to give some much-needed stability to the post.
“Only Opperman and Sir Steve Webb have held the role for a consequential period of time in the last few years and the role requires long tenure. Any change of course when it comes to retirement policy and the state pension system demands an enormous amount of time to implement and any minister needs to be at the helm for the duration to ensure there are no unintended consequences, so Burghart must be in it for the long haul.
“Opperman leaves projects such as the upcoming pensions dashboard unfinished, which will allow users to see all their pension policies in one place. Burghart will need to quickly grasp the nuances of this mammoth task and keep it ticking over to completion.
“Although Opperman has been an influential figure in driving a number of considerable projects and policies like the dashboard, he may feel that he could have enacted more change on the pension landscape had we been living in slightly calmer times but Brexit, Tory infighting and the pandemic all served to slow progress. Similarly, progress in areas such as Automatic Enrolment require cross-departmental collaboration and Burghart must be willing to push the Treasury to tackle these problems.
“Opperman should be proud of his time as pensions minister though and has advocated for more customer engagement with pensions, so people better understand these important products and also get value for money. Burghart has big shoes to fill and needs to hit the ground running.”
Kate Smith, Head of Pensions at Aegon, comments :
“We welcome the appointment of Alex Burghart as the new Minister for Pensions and Growth and look forward to working with him.
“He will have a lot on his plate and many issues vying for attention, including providing reassurance to savers in these current tumultuous times. Pension policy has been a hive of activity in recent years, and there’s still much unfinished business. The new Pensions Minister will bring fresh thinking and new ideas to an already busy ‘to do’ list. Top priorities for the new Minister include getting pension dashboards over the line, continued focus on raising pension awareness, introducing a plan to implement the recommendations of the 2017 review of auto-enrolment*, finding pension solutions for the self-employed, progressing with the proposed Value of Money framework, and working across government and regulators to better support pension savers with retirement decision making.
“It’s important the new Pension Minister works closely with the Treasury on any review of pension tax allowances, specifically the lifetime allowance and money purchase annual allowance to enable and incentive pension savings.”