Industry commentators have reflected on Laura Trott’s 12 month stint as pensions minister following her appointment as chief secretary to the Treasury in prime minister Rishi Sunak’s cabinet reshuffle yesterday.
Trott was elected as pensions minister in October 2022 and head of pensions at Aegon UK Kate Smith believes that she has achieved a lot during her short tenure.
Smith said: “She [Trott] packed a lot into a relatively short time in her ambition to deliver ‘fairer, more predictable and better run pensions’. This included the Value for Money Framework, small pots work and Collective Defined Contribution pension schemes, and the drive towards scheme consolidation, with fewer larger pension schemes.”
A key achievement for Trott during her time in office was publishing the first analysis of the gender pension gap.
“One area where Trott has made a difference, and delivered, has been to define and publish the first official statistics showing the gender pensions gap, shining a light on the difference between male and female private pensions wealth,” Smith added.
“This will allow the government, and employers, to monitor the impact of policies and the wider economic pressures on the gender pensions gap, hopefully helping to develop solutions to narrow the gap.”
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However Steve Webb, partner at LCP and former pensions minister, expressed his frustration at the low regard the pensions department is held by government.
He said: “It is however frustrating that minister for pensions is such a low status role in government that when someone does a good job they get moved on.”
This sentiment was echoed by Jon Greer, head of retirement policy at Quilter, who expressed his concern about pensions not being a top priority for the government.
Greer commented: “Pensions don’t appear to be a top priority for the government as in just a few days we have had confirmation of no pensions bill to take forward important policy proposals and we will now have yet another new pensions minister.
“This omission in the King’s Speech is a telling sign that pension policy may not receive the attention it requires in the immediate future. Instead, it appears that the government may place pension reforms on hold, likely due to prioritising other agenda items ahead of the general election.”
Webb believes that Trott’s successor will have to hit the ground running as there are many reforms still in progress.
He said: “Trott’s successor will have an exceptionally full in tray with reforms in train across a wide area of topics including what happens to savers post retirement, consolidation of DB and DC pensions, value for money in DC and delivering the next move forward on automatic enrolment.”
However, commentators believe that the new minister will struggle to make their mark as rumours circle that PM Rishi Sunak could be preparing for an early election in the summer.