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&#39Darling has left the DWP with job only half done&#39

Alistair Darling has departed as Work and Pensions Secretary leaving the job half-done, say product providers.

Life offices say Darling has put the infrastructure in place but has failed to motivate more people to start saving through pensions.

Others are more critical. Former welfare reform minister Frank Field says the Government&#39s pension policy is a “shambles” which could spark a “mega-misselling scandal”.

Product providers say Darling, who last week moved to transport to replace Stephen Byers, will be judged by the outcome of the many reviews looking at reforming the industry.

It is difficult to pass a verdict on Darling&#39s time at the department until the outcome of the reviews by Alan Pickering, Ron Sandler and the Inland Revenue, say providers.

Since Darling came to the DWP, succeeding Harriet Harman in 1998, the industry has seen the implementation of 1 per cent charging through stakeholder, the minimum income guarantee, the state second pension and the pension credit, which is still to be implemented.

Some say these measures have only served to muddy the waters, making it difficult for people on low incomes to determine what the state will provide in benefits at retirement.

Stakeholder has been criticised for its failure to motivate lower-earners to save, serving as a pension for the middle classes and a tax break for the wealthy.

Legal & General pensions strategy director Adrian Boul-ding says: “Alistair Darling has successfully built the infrastructure but the job is only half done because we have not populated that infrastructure yet.”

Institute for Public Policy Research fellow Will Paxton says: “He has been extremely successful from the Govern-ment&#39s point of view but has not been willing to accept some of the very valid criticisms of pension policy.”

Scottish Life head of pensions strategy Steve Bee says: “We have a complex pension system. If at the end of the current reviews we end up with a single system which is fair, he will have succeeded.”

Comment, p37


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