Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home News UK

Pensions expert Ros Altmann, appointed by David Cameron, leaves Government

Published 15/07/2016

Ros Altmann has left the Government
Ros Altmann has left the Government

A leading pensions expert has quit the Government with a broadside against its policy record on the issue.

Ros Altmann was made a peer and appointed minister for pensions by David Cameron in 2015 after a career fighting for older people's rights.

She was one of a number of departures from Government on the third day of Theresa May's premiership, alongside Anna Soubry, who lost her job as business minister.

Meanwhile, Brexit-backing Penny Mordaunt was moved from the Ministry of Defence to become a Minister of State for Work and Pensions, with her previous role going to Mike Penning, formerly at the Home Office.

In a resignation letter to Mrs May, Baroness Altmann said that her efforts to improve pensions policy over the past year had been thwarted by "short-term political considerations".

Lady Altmann told the new PM: "As a minister, I have tried to drive positive long-term changes on pensions from within Government and ameliorate some of the past mistakes which I have cautioned against.

"Unfortunately over the past year, short-term political considerations, exacerbated by the EU referendum, have inhibited good policy-making. As the country heads into uncharted waters, I would urge you and your new team to enable my successor to address some of the major policy reforms that are needed to improve pensions for the future."

Lady Altmann called for more help for women forced to work longer by the Government's decision to raise their retirement age.

"I am not convinced the Government adequately addressed the hardship facing women who have had their state pension age increased at relatively short notice," she said. "They were not adequately informed."

And she said that to tackle the "crisis" in social care funding, the Government should develop a "one nation" lifetime pension.

The current "ineffective and complex" system for encouraging people to save for their retirement through tax breaks "disproportionately" favours the wealthy and leaves lower earners "seriously disadvantaged", she said.

"We need a radical overhaul of incentives, which can offer more generous help than basic rate tax relief, but as a straightforward Government pension contribution for all, and would end the discrimination against Britain's lowest earners who are forced to pay at least 20% more for their pension than higher paid workers," said Lady Altmann.

The peer also called for withdrawals from pension pots - encouraged by changes introduced by former Chancellor George Osborne - to be taxed to avoid perverse incentives to "spend the money too soon".

And she called for support for employers to maintain defined benefit pension schemes.

The cull of Cameron allies continued as arts minister Ed Vaizey announced he has left the Government.

In a tweet, Mr Vaizey said: "Looking forward to supporting the Government from the backbenches #vexit."

Downing Street confirmed Mr Vaizey had left the Government and announced a further swathe of ministerial appointments.

Matt Hancock and Greg Hands were confirmed as two proteges of Mr Osborne to survive the clearout, with the Chancellor's former Treasury deputy Mr Hands going to the new Department for International Trade and Mr Hancock moving from the Cabinet Office to the Culture Department, with responsibility for digital policy.

Another member of Mr Osborne's Treasury team, Damian Hinds, becomes minister of state at Work and Pensions.

Housing minister Brandon Lewis - a strong supporter of Mrs May's bid for the leadership - moves to the Home Office as minister for policing and the fire service.

Jo Johnson - brother of new Foreign Secretary Boris - keeps his universities and science brief as a minister shared by the Education and Business departments.

John Hayes, who served under Mrs May at the Home Office, moves to the Department for Transport, while Robert Goodwill moves in the other direction, becoming immigration minister at the Home Office.

Battersea MP Jane Ellison moved from her public health role to become Financial Secretary to the Treasury.

Mrs May continued appointing junior ministers on Saturday, with Michael Gove ally Dominic Raab leaving the Ministry of Justice and the Government.

Former solicitor general Sir Oliver Heald was promoted to a minister of state role at the department.

Philip Dunne was moved from the Ministry of Defence to become a minister of state at Health, while Nick Hurd was moved from International Development to become a Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Lord Price was appointed Minister of State at the Department for International Trade.

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph