The Conservative Party has issued a revised statement of its aims and values which, while confirming cutting taxes won't be a top priority, neither it seems is pensions.
Following a series of consultation events around the country on the draft version published earlier this year, Conservative leader David Cameron has launched the new document, describing its mission as “a responsibility revolution”.
Built to last - a 12-page document published by the Tories yesterday - is split into eight sections outlining the party’s approach to various issues such as the environment, healthcare, education and housing, social justice, enterprise, communities, poverty and security.
However, apart from noting it wishes to co-operate with other parties and seek consensus on a number of issues, including pensions policy, the hot topic of pensions reform is barely mentioned.
Instead the ‘mini manifesto’, which will be voted on by all members of the Conservative Party at the end of August, says it plans to create stable foundations for enterprise and economic growth by strengthening the independence of the Bank of England.
It also states the Party will put “economic stability and fiscal responsibility ahead of promises to cut taxes”, although it adds it aims to strengthen competitiveness to help create jobs through “fairer, flatter and simpler taxes ad deregulation for employers and wealth creators”.
On pensions, the Party seems to broadly follow the government’s agenda with plans to increase financial security in old age by “reducing means-testing and restoring the incentive to save for a pension, paid for by raising the retirement age”.
Alasdair Buchanan, head of group communications at Scottish Life, says there is very little detail on pensions apart from the need to seek a political consensus on pensions policy, climate change and inflation control.
He says: “They mention reducing means-testing, but its not quantitative in any way. Do they mean eliminating it completely or reducing it to the levels of the white paper? It can either be interpreted as being in favour of the white paper, or totally against it, it doesn’t really give us anything to work with.”
Meanwhile, Rachel Vahey, head of pensions development at Scottish Equitable, says the statement just provides an un-confrontational pensions statement, and presumably leaves the detailed discussion to another document.
She says: “How they want to achieve this aim will help shape views on how desirable a strategy it is. As for responsibility, pensions is one which is shared out amongst the groups. The individual has to take on some element of personal responsibility so they can have the level and kind of income they want in retirement.”
But Vahey points out employers also have a role to play in providing initial contributions of at least 3%, although hopefully higher particularly if they run a good existing scheme, while the government holds responsibility as well “by deciding the level and mechanism of state support, and in backing and encouraging pension provision”.
Meanwhile, on the issue of housing, Cameron says the Tories will support home ownership by promoting the building of “affordable homes for young people in appropriate places” as well as extending shared ownership to make it far easier for young people to afford their own home.
Cameron says: “The country needs a new direction and new answers. I am clear about the new direction we must set for Britain. To meet the challenges of the twenty-first century, and to satisfy people’s aspirations today, this country needs a responsibility revolution.”
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
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