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New chief Smith takes over at critical time for pensions

Pension experts are hoping the appointment of a new Work and Pensions Secretary will not derail the process to simplify pensions.

The Pickering and Inland Revenue reviews are both due to report in the next month along with the Sandler review so former chief secretary to the Treasury Andrew Smith is joining the DWP at a critical time.

His appointment comes only a few weeks after Alistair Darling revealed plans to develop a new range of price-capped pension products. At the Treasury, Smith is understood to have been involved in introducing partial concurrency for stakeholder, which some in the industry say does not bode well for simplification.

Given his background at the Treasury, some fear that Smith&#39s allegiance still lies with his old department which may prove an obstacle to getting real pension reform.

Others are optimistic that Smith will bring the two departments closer together to make the most of the opportunity to simplify pensions radically.

Norwich Union director of pensions development Jerry Barnfield says: “I hope Andrew Smith gets up to speed quickly with the issues because there is so much happening at the moment but anything which brings joined-up thinking between the Treasury and the DWP is good news.”

Scottish Equitable pensions development director Stewart Ritchie says: “You have to remember where Smith has come from and if we are to believe reports of cross-representation between the DWP and the Treasury, he should be pretty well briefed.”


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