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