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Taking Flight and fight on pensions

Pensions overshadowed the political landscape in 2005 although the year began with Tory calls to implement an up-front refundable fee on Financial Ombudsman Service complaints and a moratorium on new EU regulation.

Cuts in regulation were also a theme for the Government in response to the Hampton review, leading to the Better Regulation Action Plan proposing FSA efficiency savings.

In the run-up to the general election IFA champion and former Tory vice-chairman Howard Flight was sacked for his comments on potential tax cuts. Money Marketing readers came out in favour of the Tories by a big majority in our election poll, with the LibDems almost beating Labour to second place. The LibDems improved their financial services credentials, with MPs on the right of the party such as David Laws and Chris Huhne taking on finance roles, although modernisers lost important conference votes.

In the Government, financial services divisions were exposed, especially on pensions, with the means-testing- obsessed Chancellor clashing with most of the DWP and the Prime Minister.

The Turner report on pension reform lit the touchpaper for an argument that has occupied three different Work and Pensions Secretaries in the past year – Alan Johnson, David Blunkett and now Blair loyalist John Hutton – and that will continue to rage into next year.

The year ends with the LibDems claiming victory over Brown’s U-turn on property Sipps, the Government challenging the industry to come up with its own alternative to the National Pension Sav- ings Scheme and the Tories under new leader David Cameron promising to review its economic policies.

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