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Review of 2004: Politics

The year in politics saw pensions rocket to the top of the political agenda. The Pensions Bill saw the creation of an industry-funded compensation fund for wind-up victims and a pension regulator.

Adair Turner’s report confirmed our greatest fears over retirement savings.

Under pressure from trade unions and the financial services industry, new Work and Pensions Secretary Alan Johnson hinted at a flat-rate citizen’s pension based on residency.

The Treasury select committee’s report into restoring confidence in long-term savings saw it ruffle the feathers of top life company chief execs and clash horns with ABI director general Mary Francis.

But in June, the Treasury buckled under industry pressure, revealing it would allow providers to charge up to 1.5 per cent for the Sandler suite.

After months of consecutive rises, the monetary policy committee held interest rates at 4.75 per cent for the last four months of the year as the housing market continued to cool.

New Labour star Ruth Kelly, architect of child trust funds, depolarisation, mortgage regulation and lightning conductor for awkward Equitable Life questions, was elevated to a role as Alan Milburn’s sidekick in September in a reshuffle ahead of next year’s election. Stephen Timms took over as Financial Secretary to the Treasury.

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Review of 2004: Investment

Yet another Government savings initiative slipped into freefall as the Chancellor managed to ruin what was a successful product by stripping away some of the reasons for people buying them. Isa sales fell off a cliff, with the first-ever month of net redemptions.

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