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Pension review chief slams Whitehall and Opra

Head of the pensions simplification review Alan Pickering has made a scathing attack on the Government, saying it had taken an “Alice in Wonder-land” approach to pension legislation.

At the Royal Institute of International Affairs European Pensions conference on Monday, he said the Department for Work and Pensions and the Treasury “do not communicate except with megaphones”.

Pickering also attacked pensions regulator Opra.

He said: “We want a regulator with a brain rather than one with a set of boxes and a marker pen – a different sort of regulator altogether.”

At the same conference, pensions minister Ian McCartney said some criticisms were “barbed” and “unfair” but was glad Pickering feels free to make such remarks. He said he took on board Pickering&#39s comments and they show just how independent he is of Government controls.

Pickering and McCartney both spoke of the problem of the previous cake-layering approach to legislation.

McCartney says: “This is why we have put him in charge of the review. We want root and branch reform of the pension system. There is no hidden agenda to curtail Alan&#39s review. The overall thrust is that the Government gets this right.”

Opra communications manager Nick Edmans says: “Opra is a reactive regulator. We are defined by statute and have to work within very prescriptive rules that we have no powers to change. There is a long list of things that we would like to change ourselves.”

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