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Purnell takes over Work and Pensions

Former Culture Secretary James Purnell has become the fifth Work and Pensions Secretary in three years following the resignation of Peter Hain.

Hain quit the Cabinet last week after his late declaration of £103,000 in donations became the subject of a police investigation.

Purnell was minister for pension reform before becoming Culture Secretary in Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s first Cabinet. He led much of the Government’s work on pension reform in the last Pensions Bill and is well thought of in the industry.

Scottish Widows head of pensions market development Ian Naismith says: “He will hit the ground running and during his previous time in the department he demonstrated a good grasp of the issues and a willingness to engage with all stakeholders.”

Hargreaves Lansdown head of pensions research Tom McPhail says: “Purnell was reasonably well respected in the industry when he was pensions minister. He managed to implement some measures which were pretty unwelcome without tarnishing himself.”

Purnell says: “My aspirations are to ensure everyone has the chance to be self-reliant in old age and to make work the right – and the responsibility – of everyone who is capable of it.”

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