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Labour claims Tories 'getting away with murder' on pensions

Shadow work and pensions minister Owen Smith has goes on the offensive as a long awaited pension report is expected to emerge.

 
Labour claims Tories 'getting away with murder' on pensions

Labour’s shadow secretary for work and pensions Owen Smith has attacked the government for ‘getting away with murder’ on pension policies.

Speaking at a Trades Union Congress conference, Smith (pictured) said the government had been able to get away with reforms such as last year’s pension freedoms and increases to state pension ages in 2011 without a challenge.

‘I do think the Tories have been getting away with murder on pensions in recent years, implementing pretty radical reforms with scant consultation and little certainty about whether they are likely to succeed,’ he said.

He admitted the party had not forced a serious discussion about pensions for a long time, but pledged this would change.

‘We haven’t had a serious conversation in parliament about pensions in a long, long time,’ Smith said.

‘My view is that we do need to ask some pretty fundamental basic questions about pensions, perhaps get back to some of the first principles about them and have that robust assessment about what they are for.’

Smith accused the current government of ‘gambling’ with the futures of savers, and pointed to worries over increasing debt levels and worsening savings ratios as policy failures.

He also said Labour had not been bold enough to make its mark in the pensions debate.

'Labour have been too cowed in this debate, we have been embarrassed far too long about the 75p rise in the state pension [in 1999]. It was a great mistake… we need to get on the front foot once more,’ he said.

At the Labour conference in September last year Smith promised the party would challenge the government following the introduction of the pension freedoms.

The party has largely been silent on pensions since, but in recent weeks has backed the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) campaign in parliament.

Smith said Labour would table an opposition debate in the coming weeks regarding the campaign, and it would present options for transitional arrangement for women born in the 50s affected by increases in their state pension age.

‘We have been leading [the Waspi debate] in parliament in recent months,’ Smith said. 'They've been short changed by the government.'

Smith also revealed his party would publish a long-awaited report into pensions ‘in the next few days’.

The report, which was written by Pensions Institute professor David Blake, was originally commissioned in May 2014 by one of Smith’s predecessors, Rachel Reeves.

However, its publication has been pushed back a number of times since then.

3 comments so far. Why not have your say?

S_M

Feb 04, 2016 at 19:35

Amazing the hypocrisy of the Labour Party on full view here. Have they not forgotten the £100bn plus they creamed off occupational pension schemes from 1997. Of course it was the bankers that caused our fiscal deficit not a Labour government who just couldn't control the purse strings.

Then they came out with ridiculous policies like making stakeholder pensions compulsory for employers with more than 5 employees, only the employer didn't have to contribute!

And last but not least pensions simplification, what a great moment that was in the history of our pension system.

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Hugh M

Feb 05, 2016 at 04:29

So, you have Waspi! What about the inequality of men's pensions, having to work longer and harder to get a shorter pension life (women generally live longer and still retire earlier). Women against inequality? Don' ee make oi larff!

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Graham Barlow

Feb 05, 2016 at 13:19

It was not many years ago when Britain's occupational Pension funds were the envy of the World. In fact People in Politics used to say they feared the EU getting their hands on it some how in a Euro Pension stitch up. They needn't have worried about the EU. Along came Brown who's greedy eye alighted on this bonanza, and immediately began the process of taking out billions into the state coffers for "Redistribution". Most went straight out on benefits and any other International whim that took Brown's fancy ie, Announcing on prime time American TV that Britain was buying everybody in Africa a mosquito net. He announced this as the great "I am" without even telling Parliament.He also doubled Public expenditure in the budget on the back of the Pension confiscation. Labour want to keep their mouths shut on Pensions, they could be shown up before they have even started. The whole lot in Parliament have much to answer for in the case of private sector funds which does not belong to the state.

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