Osborne has also voiced “grave concerns” about personal accounts, claiming that the meanstesting issue could see the scheme becoming the “next scandal” if it is not resolved.
Speaking at the Association of British Insurers’ biennial conference in London this morning, Osborne said Conservative proposals such as moving the UK from being built on debt to based around savings were good news for advisers.
He said: “We want independent financial advice services and I would hope that our proposals to encourage the country to move from debt to savings should open up all sorts of opportunities for the sector to talk to people about how they can best save for their retirement for example, whether they go into the traditional pension, whether they use Isas and the like. I think that is an opportunity for the sector.”
Also at the conference, Osborne predicted that Government ministers would be “tearing their hair out” in 10 years’ time if the personal accounts scheme was allowed to push ahead without the issue of meanstesting being resolved.
He said: “We want to maintain our cooperation but you have got to deal with this danger of misselling otherwise this is going to be the next scandal in 10 years time and this industry and the Government ministers involved will be tearing their hair out saying, ‘how did we get this so wrong?’
“If you are selling to someone who, as a result, is going to lose meanstested benefits then you are in danger of misselling to them. Instead of ignoring that issue it is fundamental to personal accounts and needs to be resolved.”
Osborne also lambasted the Government for excluding the Conservatives from the decision-making process.
He said: “I think as the opposition and as the people who are hopefully going to be the next Government in 12 months time, we are entitled to be part of the Government decision-making process for what is going to be a long-term change to our country.
“At the moment, the Government and the Department for Work and Pensions do not really engage with us and I do not think that is very sensible when you are trying to create a system that needs to work over a long period of time.”
Osborne said encouraging saving through the tax system would be a central task for the Tories as would be trying to avoid the “uncertainty and damage” caused by rushed tax changes.
He said: “We will reform the way we make tax law, imposing a new requirement that all technical changes to the tax system will have to be published at the pre-Budget report and there will be proper Parliamentary scrutiny, with the ability to take evidence from outside experts. We will also make use of the expertise in the tax profession with secondees working together with officials in a new office for tax simplification who will hold the ring on consultations.”
He revealed the Conservatives are developing plans to create an independent office for Budget responsibility which will take over responsibility from the Chancellor for publishing Budget forecasts and will ensure the party shores up Government finances.