Clause 19 - Introduction and definition

Part of Pension Schemes Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 28th October 2014.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Gregg McClymont Gregg McClymont Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 3:45 pm, 28th October 2014

This time I will make a speech rather than the longest intervention on record, Mr Bone.

The hon. Gentleman has raised some interesting points. I was going to ask, but he caught me napping by sitting down, what he thought was the way to achieve the right outcome. There is a view, rightly or wrongly—I hope rightly—that the advertising campaign around auto-enrolment has been very successful, but we do not know whether that is the case. We know that auto-enrolment has been successful so far, but we do not know whether the campaign has been part of that. It is quite hard to assess. [Interruption.] The Minister says that we do, and that is good news.

Communicating to individuals that their pension in payment could be cut, which has never really happened in the UK system, is a big challenge. Most people will not know what a pension in payment is, to start with. That language will not make sense to them. However, they will soon work it out if we say that their pension when they retire could, in the worst circumstances, be cut.

I was trying to say at great length earlier something that can be said quite simply. The Government are going down the path of saying to individuals “This is your money,” and they are on the side of people turning their pension pots into an income. The language is very much, “You will have savings that, from the age of 55, you can do what you want with.” That potentially increases the difficulty of selling a form of pension that involves smoothing the process and gives a retirement income, rather than one that allows people to buy something for themselves. The challenge is perhaps significant to begin with, but the way in which the budget reforms interact with the Minister’s desire to promote CDC might well not work to the advantage of those who favour it. That question needs to be asked. There cannot be a definitive answer, but I am concerned about getting people to believe on the one hand that CDC is the way to go and, on the other hand, putting powerful emphasis on “This is your money, you can access it whenever you want.”

There is obviously a specific question: what impact will the possibility of exit at 55 have on CDC? We heard from one witness who thought that it could be overcome, but that depends on the design of the scheme. To be fair to the witness, they seemed to give a rounded explanation, but it was not one that we could communicate to a member of the public in any clear fashion, and that is a significant challenge.