On his first Ministerial appearance since taking over the role of Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, John Hutton has said he is determined to carry on his predecesor's programme of reform.
Speaking yesterday at Mamchester leg of the Department for Work and Pensions National Pensions Debate Hutton said: “I am determined to press ahead with the government’s ambitious programme to renew our welfare and pensions system. I have joined the department at an important time and came to Manchester to listen to members of the public about their pensions challenges, particularly those faced by women.”
Minister for Pensions Reform, Stephen Timms, who joined Hutton in Manchester along with Tessa Jowell, the Minister for Women in what might be described as a delbierate show of departmental unity, focused on the challenges facing women in retirement saying the government wanted to build a pensions system that worked for women.
“It is very encouraging so many stakeholder groups and individuals have got involved in the National Pensions Debate. Delivering fair outcomes for women will be central to the consensus we build to address the pensions challenge,"Timms said.
Alasdair Buchanan, group head of communications at Scottish Life, says the new Hutton seemed to be re-iterating the same ideas as his predecessor to try and send out the signals that a change of personnel would not dilute the objectives of reform.
He adds: “Realistically all that he can do is underline his commitment to government reform as it is a very complex brief and he doesn’t yet understand the intricacies of policies which are very high up on the political agenda. It is disappointing that he will be under pressure from the word go rather than having time to get to grips with the issues.”
John Lawson, head of pensions policy at Standard Life, says the comments sent out the signal that it is "business as usual" and made it obvious the government is keen to take action. He also noted that Stephen Timms seemed to drop clear hints women and pensions were going to be a focus for reform.
Lawson says: “It is good news that they are determined to crack on with the reform, but that was expected as the determination for reform comes from higher up, as pensions figure highly on Blair’s agenda. Hutton has Timms for consistency and it’s probable that the plans for pensions reform have already been made and Hutton is just there to see them through.”
The Manchester leg of the debate was attended by stakeholders and pension industry representatives in the morning and members of the public in the afternoon.
The debate is currently touring the country with the aim of educating people about the challenges the pensions system faces, while allowing them to share their views.
If you have any comments you would like to add to this story or would like to speak to its author about a similar subject, telephone Nyree Stewart on 020 7968 4558 or email [email protected].IFAonline
£92bn transferred since 2015
Achievements, charity work and other happy snippets
Since first announcement