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This week in Politics

Pension bods from the three political parties must be sick of the sight of each other with three seminar events squeezing themselves in this week before Parliament goes into recess next Tuesday.

A DWP seminar, Westminster briefing and launch of a PPI paper on the Government proposals allowed Work and Pension Secretary John Hutton and pensions minister James Purnell the chance to begin to make good on their promise of genuine consensus.

But Tory Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Hammond half-joked Purnell was running away from opposition arguments after having to make a quick exit from two of the events before listening to Hammond’s concerns.

The PPI continued its well respected scrutiny of Government pension policy with stats showing between one and two thirds of pensioners would be eligible for Pension Credit in 2050 and the net cost of the reforms would be negligible at first and rising to just 0.1 per cent of GDP from 2030.

Its research concluding that the reforms will benefit pensioners on the highest incomes disproportionately compared to the poorest pensioners will raise alarm bells across Parliament.

The effect of means testing on Personal Accounts is still the issue most troubling both the Tories and LibDems, with the potential of wiping out the benefit of the employer contribution, but Purnell said DWP research in the coming months would refute this suggestion.

The massive Government U-turn on Home Information Packs allowed Tory leader David Cameron to land a few punches in this week’s PMQs calling on Blair to ‘mug up’ in this area as he will soon be moving home.

Cameron called on the Prime Minister to explain to the House why ministers had got the scheme so wrong and asked him to confirm if the Government’s Budget proposals for a planning gain supplement are also to be scrapped.

Blair would not confirm this and said the Government would have to wait for the results of the current Hip pilots before announcing further measures of how the scheme will proceed.

Elsewhere representatives of Swedish and Dutch business and trade unions wrote a letter to the FT warning of the perils of the upcoming EU pension portability directive which they say will undermine collective bargaining agreements and push up the administration burden on pension schemes.

It is still hard to work out what the final effect of this directive- due to come into force in July 2008- will be on the industry with various consultations and responses doing the rounds as it is being debated in the European Parliament, but the letter calls for the plans to be seriously reconsidered.


Bank of Scotland reveals broker retention push

Bank of Scotland is to mirror fellow HBOS brands Halifax and BM Solutions with a retention strategy for mortgage brokers.The scheme is likely to be launched early next year, although exact timescales have yet to be announced. A spokeswoman says the scheme will be similar to that used by Halifax and BM Solutions whereby brokers […]

Mystery over NU ‘incentives’

Terence O’Halloran may be holding out valiantly for the cause of with-profits but I have just seen a leaflet from Norwich Union to its with-profits holders which, in an obliquely abstruse and roundabout way (it might, in fact, have been written by someone at the FSA), appears to give advance notice of “financial incentives” for […]

Segars appointed NAPF chief executive

The National Association of Pension Funds has announced that Joanne Segars will become chief executive from October 2006.She takes over from Christine Farnish who is joining Barclays as director of public policy. Segars joined the NAPF as director of policy in April 2005 from the ABI where she was head of pensions and savings. Prior […]

Five years of New Star

New Star Asset Management celebrates its fifth birthday this week as one of the highest-profile fund firms, with 8.1bn under management through acquisition and aggressive expansion. Founder and chairman John Duffield talks to Money Marketing about how he has built up the business. Q: How different was setting up New Star compared with when you […]


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