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Pensions Commission ‘feared Brown’

The Pensions Commission did not propose changes to higher-rate pension tax relief because it feared the wrath of Gordon Brown, says LibDem Work and Pensions Secretary David Laws.

Speaking at an Association of British Insurers’ fringe event in Brighton, Laws said Lord Turner would have liked to have tackled the issue but feared a rap on the knuckles from the Chancellor.

Turner’s report was critical of the current tax relief system, stating “pension tax relief is costly, poorly focused and not well understood” but did not offer any solutions.

The subject was outside Turner’s remit but Laws said this did not stop the commission examining and reporting on other areas outside its original scope.

He said flattening tax relief to the basic rate was fair and redistributive.

Laws highlighted the fact that backbench MPs would lose an average of £1,000 tax relief a year under the plan.

He also said the Government’s pension reform proposals still failed to deal with public-sector pensions and said he has set up a working committee, including a number of outside experts, to examine the issue and report next year.

Laws said: “I think Turner’s commission would like to have been able to delve further into the issue but it would have got an even bigger rap on the knuckles than it actually got from Brown.”

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