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Webb declares no ‘screeching’ charge cap U-turn but admits timing challenge

Pensions minister Steve Webb says there will be no “screeching U-turns” over the Government’s pension charge cap plans but admits its original timetable may have been unrealistic.

Speaking at a Headlinemoney dinner last night in London, Webb told journalists the Government was clear a market intervention was needed to ensure auto enrolment reforms delivered value for money for savers.

Webb’s comments follow last week’s revelation in the Financial Times that the Government was likely to delay the introduction of its charge cap, originally due to be introduced this April, by at least a year. The Government consultation on introducing a cap was only published in October. 

Webb said he had seen nothing in over 160 submissions to the consultation that changed his mind on the need for a cap but admitted the time scale outlined may not have been realistic in certain situations. 

He said: “I have read the odd headline about screeching U-turns and I don’t recognise this. Clearly people have spoken to us about timing and it’s worth bearing in mind we have told firms to prepare for auto-enrolment at least 12 months ahead of doing it and we have had some feedback on our suggestion that we make some changes 12 weeks ahead of doing it, which were reasonable things that we will have to reflect on.”

Webb added the Government was grappling with technical details around the transition to the new rules and said it was “astonishing” auto enrolment was introduced without a definition of what a good quality scheme looks like.

He would not comment further on any delay but yesterday in the House of Lords, Government pensions spokesman Lord Bates said Webb would update Parliament this Thursday on his charge cap plans.

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