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NAPF Conference: new shadow pensions minister outlines his agenda

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After taking on the role only 10 days ago, the new shadow minister for pensions Gregg McClymont (pictured), yesterday addressed the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) Conference in Manchester outlining his priorities as reforming the state pension and persuading society of the necessity of saving.

He said: “The UK’s pensions expertise is admired worldwide and if we play our cards right we will have a competitive advantage. We can’t have pensions diminished within the banks, so we have to reform the pensions system so we can avoid running just to stand still.

“I’m reassured the Government remains committed to auto-enrolment and I look forward to having a constructive conversation with [pensions minister] Steve Webb. But I think the last [Labour] Government deserves credit for auto-enrolment.

“Consensus is a fragile thing and I will work constructively to keep challenging the Government.”

Last week, the Government announced women who would have seen a two-year increase to their state pension age will have their wait reduced to 18 months, meaning the female retirement age will now increase to 66 in October 2020, instead of April that year.

McClymont said: “Eighteen months is still too long and the Government has not explained this. It’s an issue of fairness.”

And discussing the issue of changes and irregularity in the pensions sector, McClymont, who does not have public sector pensions within his brief, said: “How can we encourage people to save for retirement if there is uncertainty? It’s time to look forward.

“We live in a time when the minority are saving for retirement and more than auto-enrolment will be needed. Financial education in schools will have a role to play, we need to consider tax relief on pensions and waiting limits.

“The Government has promised to reinvigorate pensions. We live in a time of insecurity. The economy is flat lining and people are crying out for security and peace of mind.

“If we are to radically over haul the pensions system there will be winners and losers – but any decision must be perceived fair by the public.”