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The UK’s Post-Brexit Pension Policymakers

Britain’s outgoing pensions minister hits out at “short-term political considerations” that have hindered pensions policy.

The post-referendum political fallout continued over the weekend as the UK’s pensions minister quit her post after just over a year.

Ros Altmann wrote to new Prime Minister Theresa May on July 15 to inform her of the decision. The previous day, May had appointed Damian Green as minister for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), which oversees welfare policy.

“The time is right to properly consider the issues facing employers trying to support DB pension schemes and potential use of pension assets to boost economic growth.”“As a minister, I have tried to drive positive long-term changes on pensions from within government and ameliorate some of the past mistakes which I have cautioned against,” Altmann wrote. “Unfortunately over the past year, short-term political considerations, exacerbated by the EU referendum, have inhibited good policymaking. As the country heads into uncharted waters, I would urge you and your new team to enable my successor to address some of the major policy reforms that are needed to improve pensions for the future.”

Altmann called for the government to “urgently assess the future” of defined benefit (DB) pensions.

“Given the risks of diverting corporate resources to one favored group of workers [and] the need to ensure adequate resources for younger generations’ pensions, the time is right to properly consider the issues facing employers trying to support DB pension schemes and potential use of pension assets to boost economic growth,” the outgoing minister wrote.

Altmann was appointed pensions minister in May 2015 following the Conservative Party’s general election victory. She is a member of the House of Lords, the UK’s upper house, rather than an elected member of parliament—“I am at heart a policy expert, rather than a politician,” she wrote.

Richard Harrington has been appointed as Altmann’s successor. However, his official title is “parliamentary under-secretary,” a more junior position than Altmann’s “minister of state.” A spokesperson for the DWP told CIO Harrington’s brief would be the same, and he would still be referred to as the pensions minister.

In addition to the roles for Harrington and Green, Philip Hammond was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, replacing George Osborne.

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