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Leader: Ros shows politicians the way

With a general election round the corner, this month’s Retirement Strategy caught up with high-profile pensions campaigner Ros Altmann to hear her views on what the three main political parties would offer savers.

Altmann, a former Downing Street adviser and campaigner for a better pension deal for consumers, pulls no punches in her critique of all three parties.

Altmann has been a leading critic of this Government’s pension failings but she is also underwhelmed by what the Tories have said and upset with the LibDems for rolling back on their commitment to a citizens’ pension.

Echoing the views of many advisers, Altmann calls for a simplification of the state pension regime, offering a higher basic pension and scrapping means-testing.

She is right to argue that under such a regime the introduction of auto-enrolment is far more likely to be a real success. A stable, simplified pension system would also offer a better platform for advisers to do their job.

Interestingly, she suggests the current economic climate could force politicians into the type of radical thinking they have so far shied away from.

Altmann says although she agrees with certain Tory proposals, such as an end to forced annuitisation, she is yet to be won over.

She advocates a lifetime savings regime, with a better interaction between saving vehicles and some early access to pension savings. Hopefully, proposals along these lines will be appearing in the Conservative Party’s manifesto after similar plans, led by former Shadow Work
and Pensions Secretary David Willetts, were included in their 2005 manifesto.

David Cameron and George Osborne could do much worse than offering Altmann an advisory role if they make it to Downing Street. But this time she needs to be listened to.

Elsewhere in this month’s issue, The Retirement Partnership director Billy Burrows suggests the current spike in inflation, even if it is short-lived, is a good opportunity to explore assetbacked annuities with your clients.

MGM Advantage launched its flexible income annuity recently and a number of other providers are also looking to join those already offering asset-backed options.

On the educational pages, Barnett Waddingham consultant Ian Ward offers a back-to-basics view of Sipps and SSASs while Skandia head of retirement planning Adrian Walker suggests options for recycling income.

As always, any comments or suggestions for future issues should be sent to paul.mcmillan@centaur.co.uk

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