Examination of Witnesses

Part of Savings (Government Contributions) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:27 pm on 25th October 2016.

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Martin Lewis:

One of the problems you will have with the lifetime ISA for pensions is that the vast majority of money will go into savings, not investments, which over a long period is probably not a good move. That is another issue, whereas pension money really goes into investing. I think most people who put money in a lifetime ISA will put it in a cash version and they will not need an investment manager because of that. I think there is an issue going on there.

Are these products complicated? All products are complicated; all products can be explained. I have always been anti the simplicity agenda—all that does is cut down choice and competition and take away flexibility of lifestyle to enable products to be different for different people. These products are no more complicated than those we have out there. It is always said of the state pension that there are only two people who understand it: one of them is dead and the other is still not sure whether he really does get it.

When you contrast these products with the state pension, they are pretty easy products to understand. They have to be explained and they have to be communicated. They will take time. We need to ensure that we use nice, easy and real terminology and not jargon when we do so. Certainly with the lifetime ISA, it is going to take five, six or seven years before it becomes a steady part of what people do. Certainly on the pensions side, the lifetime ISA is easier because it is really the help to buy ISA with some tweaks—that is all it is—and we have already started to do the education process on that.

The argument that they are too complicated is just a complete load of palpable balderdash. It sounds like an industry that is already making a lot of money from one product that does not want to see competition to it. I do not want to see competition to it when it is not right for punters, but when it is right for them and it is a good product, we should be offering it, and we should be slightly careful not to listen to people making bogus excuses because they are rent-seeking.