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Bee&#39s stinging attack on Pickering &#39failure&#39

Leading pension expert Steve Bee has branded Alan Pickering&#39s pension review a failure for surrendering simplification to the Inland Revenue.

In a stinging attack on the review, Scottish Life head of pensions strategy Bee claims plans to sell safe haven products without advice will decriminalise misselling.

But Pickering has hit back, arguing that he was only char-ged with addressing bureaucracy in the Department for Work and Pensions-regulated pensions environment and that the industry can expect radical change from the Revenue&#39s review, out later this summer.

The industry fears that Pickering&#39s failure to give detailed proposals for the interface between private and state provision, retrospective simplification, concurrency and the structure of his three proposed new products means that the Revenue will now drive the agenda.

Bee also claims the review creates a missellers&#39 charter as it promotes generic products sold without advice. The DWP is to produce a Green Paper in the autumn following the Revenue&#39s review into pension taxation in September and Pickering&#39s findings.

But Secretary for Work & Pensions Andrew Smith has already distanced himself from Pickering&#39s two most controversial proposals – removing the obligation to give inflation indexation protection and spouse&#39s benefits.

Pickering says: “If you only have half a picture, you should blame the person who has not painted their half. I pushed my remit as far as possible.”

Bee says: “There is less to this report than meets the eye. We needed Alan Pickering to put the Revenue in a straitjacket, which he has not done. Making pensions cheap, simple and accessible does not necessarily make them suitable. Proposing that generic safe haven products be sold without advice amounts to the decriminalisation of misselling.”

Syndaxi Financial Planning director Robert Reid says: “Pickering has wasted a lot of time and his report may be consigned to the bin. He has been so busy trying to defend finalsalary schemes that he has forgotten what his report was intended for.”

•Reviews, pages 3 and 12

Smee, p14

Analysis, p15

Industry reaction, pages 16, 18 and 20

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