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Hard talk

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Rhetoric in the industry is hardening as plans move toward implementation

John Greenwood

The honeymoon period is well and truly over for the Coalition Government that has attracted so much praise, in the field of pensions at least, in its first months in office.

As the anniversary of the coalition agreement approaches, ministers are drawing as many criticisms as plaudits.

It looks as though the Government is soon to be on the receiving end of a series of writs from a number of pensioner bodies on account of its changes of indexation rates, with some employers and trustees in for similar treatment no doubt.

And, covered in this month’s issue, the DWP has also been on the wrong end of a tonguelashing from Stuart Southall, chairman of ACA, for failure to do more to promote occupational pensions in the workplace.

The Government is also coming under fire from the defined benefit sector, worried at what will be yet another ’final nail’ if contracting out goes forever. And George Osborne’s plan to harmonise income tax and National Insurance has been roundly slammed as unlikely ever to see the light of day.

Meanwhile, the battles within different financial services sectors are also being played out in an increasingly vocal fashion, as providers, advisers, trustees and politicians realise how much is at stake as reforms are pushed through at break-neck speed. Witness Duncan Howorth’s strong but well-argued defence of short service refunds.

In the field of healthcare meanwhile it seems advisers are not just pitted against advisers, but also against providers, in a dual pricing development that former AMII chair Mike Izzard considers a serious threat to the entire sector.

As the changes in the industry come to a crescendo in the coming months I predict we will be seeing more of the same.

You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs it looks like getting messy in the kitchen.

John Greenwood, editor

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