Joint Treasury / DWP ministerial appointments ‘improves hope of joined up pensions policy’ – Steve Webb, LCP

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The news that Emma Reynolds MP has been appointed to a Ministerial role in both HM Treasury and the Department for Work and Pensions could lead to more ‘joined up’ pension policy according to LCP partner and former Minister, Steve Webb.

At present, many areas of pension policy are split between the two Departments.  For example, regulation of trust-based occupational pensions comes under DWP and the Pensions Regulator, whereas regulation of contract-based pensions provided by insurance companies comes under HM Treasury and the FCA. Having a single minister in charge of both could mean that policy is more coherent and fully considers the many different types of pension arrangements which UK workers currently use.

Another potential advantage is the fact that pension tax relief is a policy area which falls firmly within the remit of the Treasury but clearly has huge implications for the whole pensions landscape.   Any reform of pension tax relief would need to fully involve DWP for consideration of how changes could affect occupational pensions, and this will be easier with a minister who serves in both departments.

 
 

Although subject to final confirmation, it is assumed that the joint Treasury/DWP role announced over night will cover the pensions brief and therefore that Emma Reynolds MP will be the pensions minister.  Emma was first elected to Parliament in 2010, representing Wolverhampton NE and served for 9 years before losing her seat in 2019.  But she stood again at the 2024 Election, this time in Wycombe, and returned to Parliament with a majority of just over 4,500 votes.

Commenting, Steve Webb said: “There is much to be said in favour of a ministerial role which spans both HM Treasury and the Department for Work and Pensions.  In the past, the two departments have not always been ‘joined up’ when it comes to pensions policy, with Treasury changes to pension tax relief sometimes undermining DWP efforts to boost pension saving.  With a combined appointment there is the opportunity for decisions on pensions to take full account of the whole pensions landscape.   One risk however is that the Treasury desire to see pension assets used to promote economic growth at a macro level could mean that the individual member perspective gets less attention than it should.  This is something that the new minister will have to guard against”.

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