During my first six months as pensions minister, I have been listening to the industry, businesses and consumers about their hopes and issues for the future. So with 2017 underway, I am pleased to be able to set out some key private pensions priorities for this year so people can be clear about what is important to this Government, and where I shall be focusing my efforts.
A top priority is to make sure the rollout of automatic enrolment continues to be a success. As I come from a business background, I want to ensure we have a system that works both for individuals and employers.
One micro employer I met recently was clear supporting pension saving was the right thing to do, but also told me about the challenges they face meeting legal obligations while focused on managing the growth of their business. This feels like a view that may be common to many small businesses. So while auto-enrolment continues to be a huge success, there is still more to do. In particular, we need to make the process as easy as possible and ensure we are providing the necessary support.
Just over a million small and micro employers will be required to enrol their staff before March 2018, and we need to help them get this right. This year, we will carry out a review of auto-enrolment and I would strongly encourage all interested parties to contribute. Supporting smaller employers through auto-enrolment is a huge opportunity for the pensions industry as well as a challenge, and I want to see the pensions industry create products and services that appeal to and work for businesses.
Given we now have millions of new savers, I want to ensure the right protections are in place to help them make the right choices and take best advantage of their hard-earned savings. That is why we are consulting on a new, single guidance body, which will offer savers a one-stop shop for all their questions about financial matters. We are also speaking with the industry on new measures to prevent pension scams and ban cold-calling. It is crucial consumers are educated about their options, so I urge the industry to look at what more they can do to keep savers informed.
Following a small number of high profile cases in 2016, I am also looking at the challenges facing some defined benefit pension schemes. I shall be publishing a green paper that looks at a wide range of issues across the sector, including whether it would be helpful for some schemes to consolidate to secure the best outcome for members, and whether additional powers for The Pensions Regulator are needed.
These are just some of the challenges we face. 2017 looks set to be another busy year in the pensions world, and I look forward to working with the industry and others throughout the year as we tackle these important issues.
Richard Harrington is the pensions minister