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‘A-Day reforms are set to be sliced apart’

Tory Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mark Hoban says the Government will interfere in pensions and “salami-slice” away A-Day reforms.

Hoban says in other areas, such as the taxation of small companies, the Government has introduced significant tax concessions, only to remove them piece by piece.

Following Treasury Econ-omic Secretary Ed Balls’ recent statement on alternatively secured pensions, Hoban says the industry must guard against the Government undoing other A-Day changes.

He says: “We have seen the Government in other areas introduce significant tax concessions which are then salami-sliced away. We need to be careful not to end up with a regime where the freedoms given to encourage pensions are eroded completely.”

Hoban says although there are Government exceptions for religious groups in some areas such as education, it is hard to see how a similar move can be enf-orced in financial services.

He says during that the committee stage of this year’s Finance Bill, he forced Balls to state that the Government would not interfere with the tax-free lump sum and he pledges to hold the Government to account on the issue.

Hoban says the FSA is right to move to a principle-based regime but it must do more to ensure there is better communication with advisers on treating customers fairly.

He says: “A lot of advisers have the anxiety that the FSA at a senior level has bought into a principle-based approach but how does this apply further down? We need to see an improvement in the relationship between the FSA and advisers so all the regulator’s staff can clearly explain TCF to small firms.”

Hoban says the National Audit Office review of the FSA will be a rigorous examination and help reassure advisers that money is being spent wisely.

With the debate over commission bias, Hoban is concerned that any move to crack down in this area and force a move to a fee-based regime would cut the number of people seeking financial advice.

He says he is not sure how much appetite the public have for fee-based remuneration and, as long as advisers are applying TCF principles, there is nothing wrong with commission.

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