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Business experts react to election result

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Business experts have reacted to the election result with requests including pensions stability, a sensible approach to immigration, ongoing EU membership and more coherence between programmes for the unemployed.

A Liberal Democrat MP 'cull' and the loss of pensions minister Steve Webb is cause for concern regarding pensions stability, warned pension and savings provider GenLife.

“The loss of key members of the coalition, who have been instrumental in preparing and delivering sweeping pension reforms over the last year, will slow the momentum for changes that will help solve the pension crisis,” said managing director Nick Ayton.

He added: “Until this week, we had a very good minister for pensions in the shape of Steve Webb, someone who understands the industry and has worked hard to establish a long-term programme of action. Now we are left unsure as to who will be captaining the ship and whether or not they will be up for the job.”

“The big question is which person will get the now vacant pensions minister brief. We’ve enjoyed a period of consistency with Steve Webb, the incumbent for the whole of the parliament,” agreed technical director at pensions and benefits provider Broadstone, David Brooks. “We may be set for a return to a period of pensions musical chairs. Boris Johnson would certainly be an interesting choice.”

The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) requested an independent commission for pensions. “We reiterate our belief that an independent commission is the best way to address the challenges ahead – giving the new minister the benefit of independent expertise and analysis as she or he seeks to make policies that last for the long term,” said chief executive Joanne Segars.

Meanwhile Tapan Datta, global head of asset allocation at risk management, insurance and human capital consulting provider Aon Hewitt, called for the pensions measures set out in the Conservative party’s general election manifesto to be honoured, “including the continued use of the ‘triple lock’ for state pension increases and the reduction in tax relief on pension contributions for people earning more than £150,000”.

Concerns around employment and skills

Regarding employment and skills, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has said youth unemployment must “remain a major priority”.

“We look forward to discussing with the government how for example, the proposals for a new Youth Allowance for unemployed 18- to 21-year-olds will be linked to apprenticeships and traineeships.

"AELP’s own manifesto called for greater integration of employment and skills programmes and we believe that it will be a wasted opportunity if we don’t see more progress on this during the next five years,” said CEO Stewart Segal.

“We will urge ministers to drive more coherence between programmes for the unemployed, including more integrated contracting processes, success measures and provider payment methodologies.”

The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) called for a sensible approach to immigration to avoid skills shortages.

Chief executive Kevin Green said: “The Conservatives have promised to focus on economic growth and competitiveness, which we anticipate being positive for the UK recruitment industry. However, we need to convince the new government to adopt a sensible and balanced approach to immigration so that UK businesses can hire the talent and skills they need to succeed."

The REC also advocated ongoing membership of the EU, to avoid “uncertainty for businesses”.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has called for “an ambitious, achievable [EU] reform agenda”.

“The majority of businesses want to stay in a reformed European Union, which opens up the world’s largest market of 500 million consumers,” said director-general John Cridland.