The legacies of Osborne and Altmann

Natalie Holt, journalist with Money Marketing Photo by Michael Walter/Troika

It was not supposed to be like this. The expectation was for the UK to be stuck in political limbo until at least September pending the outcome of the Conservative leadership race.

Yet here we are barely into the tail end of July with not only a new Prime Minister, but a new Cabinet and a new pensions minister to boot.

George Osborne went to ground after the EU referendum, only to re-emerge and get sacked by the new PM.

His legacy is undoubtedly pension freedoms, for better or for worse. But he will also be remembered as the man who put Budget “rabbits” before consulting the industry on the detail. We wait to see what new Chancellor Philip Hammond makes of Osborne-led initiatives such as the Lifetime Isa and the creation of the secondary annuities market – and whether he is willing and able to strike the balance on pension tax relief reform.

As for Ros Altmann, her legacy is one of consumer champion turned stifled Tory peer and back again. She has issued several missives to the press since she left Government last week, and may yet prove to be a fierce and vocal critic of pension policy once more.

Speaking to Money Marketing, she counts among her achievements the introduction of digital state pension statements, the successful rollout of auto-enrolment and getting a Pensions Bill to deliver more protection for savers in master trusts.

She recognises there is more to do on the issue of the women’s state pension, but also argues information on what people should expect from the new state pension has improved.

Various members of the senior Government team have been described to me as knowledgeable, experienced, pragmatic – and, dare I say it, a bit boring. Given the pace of change at the moment, that is no bad thing.

The make-up of the new Government is interesting in understanding how financial services policy is likely to be shaped over the coming years. But it also informs financial services firms on how to position their Brexit arguments with the new breed of politicians.

Some large fund groups and institutions have already said they are ready to base themselves elsewhere if they do not get what they want out of negotiations. But the word from the inside is there is no point going in thinking you know better than the new Government, or that somehow the Leave vote can be undone. As our new leader is so fond of telling us: “Brexit means Brexit”.

Natalie Holt is the editor of Money Marketing