Tories vote down auto-enrolment in protest
The Conservative Party voted against the regulations for auto-enrolment in the House of Commons yesterday in protest at the Government’s delays to implementation and news that Pada plans to sign the admin contract for the Nest scheme before the general election.
The party lost the vote but the move prompted the Government to claim the Tories “voted against pensions for millions” in a release today.
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Yvette Cooper says the move is a “shocking attack” on pension provision for people in work.
Speaking to Money Marketing, Conservative Shadow pensions minister Nigel Waterson (pictured) says: “We had a committee yesterday which considered the regulations for auto-enrolment.
“Although we did welcome some of the regulations I was basically kicking up a fuss about the long delay in implementing personal accounts and what I described as their cavalier attitude to procurement on the eve of a general election.
“We had a bit of a punch up about the Pada contract. We voted against the regulations to protest what was going on.
“We lost but were trying to make a point about the fact the implementation of personal accounts seems to be turning into a marathon not a sprint.”
But Cooper says: “These reforms, supported by the CBI and the British Chambers of Commerce amongst others, will give millions of working people vital pension support for the first time - the most radical reforms for working people since the introduction of the national minimum wage.
“Now we know the Tories want to kick people in the teeth and take that pension promise away.”
Meanwhile, Pensions Minister Angela Eagle says: “I am astonished that the Tories have thrown their toys out of the pram just when the prize of pension saving for millions of people on low and medium earnings is in sight. This is breathtaking irresponsibility.
“The Tories are being disingenuous and hypocritical by talking in favour of the consensus but voting against giving millions of people access to a workplace pension.”
Hargeaves Lansdown head of pensions research Tom McPhail says: “This is like watching a poor quality spoof of the Monty Python People’s Front of Judea sketch. The Tories are right that the delays are short term political sleight of hand to save money.
“Voting against the reforms is just petty and the tone of moral outrage from Cooper and Eagle is contrived and dishonest. I say a plague on both your houses, reform of the pension system is too important to be the subject of petty bickering.”
The Personal Accounts Delivery Authority announced this week that Tata Consultancy Services was the successful bidder for the National Employment Savings Trust scheme administration services and that it intends to sign a contract with the company later this month before the expected general election in May.
Chancellor Alistair Darling announced in his pre-Budget report in December that employers could contribute only 1 per cent to their employees’ pensions for an extra year, resulting in members not recieving the full 3 per cent contribution until October 2017.
The Treasury estimated the move would save it £2.4bn.