The Government has denied using Isas as a “gimmick” to divert money away from pensions.
Speaking in a House of Commons debate yesterday, Scottish National Party pensions spokesman Ian Blackford criticised the Treasury’s recent “Ways to save in 2017” leaflet, which included information on six different types of Isas, child trust funds and premium bonds, but failed to include pensions.
Blackford said this was evidence that the Government had “downgraded” pensions, and that the “gimmick” of Isas was taking money away from pensions saving.
Blackford said: “That is an absolute disgrace, and it confirms my fears that the Government have downgraded the role of pensions and are using the gimmick of Isas to distract attention from pensionable savings.”
Harrington (pictured) said he “must totally disagree” with Blackford’s opinion on how important the Government thinks pensions are, and cited the effort spent communicating auto-enrolment reform as “one of the great successes of this Government.”
Pension charge pressure
Harrington added that the Government supported calls from the FCA to tackle unfair pensions charges after shadow pensions minister Alex Cunningham said that Labour was committed to addressing pension cost transparency.
Cunningham said: “I know that the minister agrees with me on the need for greater transparency in the pensions world, particularly around costs. He will therefore be keen to address the widespread criticism of the Government’s failing to act to ensure that people get the best possible returns. The FCA’s interim report in November highlighted a number of failures in the asset management industry relating to the transparency of costs and charges applied to pension investments, stating that “weak price competition” was having a “material impact” on investment returns. Labour is committed to implementing all the FCA’s recommendations. Are the Government?”
Again, Harrington on several occasions dismissed calls to offer further transitional payments to the Women Against State Pension Inequality campaign who have been affected by increases to the state pension age.
He said: “The Government have given £1.1 billion of transitional relief for WASPI women. The issue has been discussed in this House very many times and the Government have no plans to do anything further in that respect.”
Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green also confirmed that the Government was committed to the state pension triple-lock “for the whole of this Parliament.”