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Johnson off to a flying start as he asks life offices for policy ideas

Newly appointed Work and Pensions Secretary Alan Johnson has hit the ground running by contacting the boards of major life companies directly to ask them to put together policy proposals.

He has asked many of the UK&#39s life office directors to provide their views and suggestions on compulsion, pension reform, stakeholder, pension credit and simplification.

One life office insider says the move is a dramatic step forward for the DWP as Johnson&#39s predecessor Andrew Smith was “not renowned for his ability to foster relationships with the industry, in fact the exact opposite”.

Although the DWP has been working with the industry through the ABI on technical pension issues for a long time, it is believed that this new tactic from Johnson is separate from the present consultation process.

Scottish Equitable pensions development director Stewart Ritchie says:”If Johnson is prepared to engage in consultation with major players in the industry then this is a very refreshing development.”

Cicero Consulting senior consultant Mark Twigg says: “It looks like we now may have a Secretary of State that finally has some true understanding of the need for a long-term solution that heavily involves the private sector.”

•Comment, p41; Profile, p47; Political Points, p49

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