The second pensions white paper providing more details on the proposals for personal accounts could be published in November.
Industry sources say John Hutton, secretary of state for work and pensions, has hinted in meetings something will be published by the DWP by the end of November, but did not specify what exactly it would be.
In the first pensions white paper - published in May - the government announced it would be issuing a ‘technical paper’ in the autumn to provide more details about the personal accounts proposals which made up the greener parts of the document.
However, it is believed the technical paper may now be transformed into a second white paper, which would speed up the legislation process, although many in the industry don’t believe the full details of personal accounts will be unveiled until the draft legislation is published late next year.
Rachel Vahey, head of pensions development at Aegon Scottish Equitable, says all the comments about the second white paper suggest it is scheduled to appear before the end of the year, so there is a good chance the document Hutton hinted at could be it.
She says: “The reforms are essentially being split in two with the first part detailing the state reforms expected to be announced in the Queen’s speech in November. But we now need to keep the two parts separate and it seems likely an extra document on how personal accounts will work could be out by the end of next month.”
However, John Lawson, head of pensions policy at Standard Life, says he thinks the technical paper, or second white paper, could be out even earlier, in mid-November, so that there is some detailed information to hand over to the ‘delivery authority’ which is also expected to be announced in the Queen’s Speech along with the state reforms.
He says officials from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) have admitted the first draft of the technical paper would be ready in early October so it can be put in front of ministers when they come back from recess.
Lawson says: “I think it could be probably be ready in mid-November, and the document Hutton hinted at could be draft legislation for the state reforms and the provision to set up the delivery authority.”
He points out the legislation is unlikely to be passed until early next year, but he says if the government is serious about the idea of a ‘delivery authority’ they need to start thinking about it soon, as even if they started recruiting members today the organisation wouldn’t be in place until March.
He adds: “Recruitment could take about two months, but if they are looking for industry members to fill full-time positions, there’s an additional three month waiting period. I’d expect them to kick this off at the end of November so it could be in place by May, in a position to start making decisions, which could maybe tie in with draft legislation at the end of next month.”
Vahey agrees there would seem to be a need for the white paper to come before the legislation setting up the delivery authority, as the authority is meant to be a practical thing, working out how best to deliver the clearing house, or fund manager contracts and any campaigns which might be needed.
But she adds: “If the state reforms include paving legislation for personal accounts, then it seems plausible more detailed information, in the form of a second white paper, would come out around the same time, and as the Queen’s Speech is in November, the end of the month sounds about right.”
However the DWP could not confirm the date, as a spokesman says: “There is no timescale at the moment but dates will be announced in due course.”
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From 6 April 2019