‘It has been a privilege’: Ousted Steve Webb thanks supporters

Steve Webb, who has been pensions minister for the last five years, has thanked his supporters after losing his parliamentary seat

Steve Webb, the former pensions minister who lost his parliamentary seat last week, has thanked his supporters for their backing during the campaign.Despite receiving more than 18,000 votes, Webb

Despite receiving more than 18,000 votes in Thornbury & Yate, Webb lost out in a close result to Conservative Luke Hall.

The Conservatives secured an unexpected majority in last week’s election, winning several seats from Labour and the Liberal Democrats, in particular, to finish with 331 seats.

In a message on Facebook, Webb wrote: “A big thank you to everyone for their generous comments on Facebook and Twitter, and especially to the 18,400 local people who wanted me as their local MP – unfortunately not quite enough. It has been a privilege to serve our area for the last 18 years in Parliament.”

Webb, the UK’s longest serving pensions minister, received many favourable comments on his Facebook page, including from one contributor who suggested he run for the leadership of the Liberal Democrats in the wake of Nick Clegg’s resignation. Another wrote, simply: ‘Big error Thornbury & Yate’.

Though some advisers have queried the scale of the changes to pensions during Webb’s five-year tenure as minister others have been unequivocal in their praise.

Society of Pension Professionals president Duncan Buchanan said Webb was a “very popular” pensions minister who was “engaged” with his portfolio and showed “great enthusiasm” for the role.

National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) chief executive Joanne Segars said: “Steve Webb was one of the longest serving pensions ministers and the NAPF and its members have appreciated his expertise and his willingness to engage with the industry to make reform both practical for the industry and beneficial for savers. We wish him well.”

Meanwhile, Punter Southall principal Joanne Livingston said: “Steve Webb was greatly admired for being unfailingly knowledgeable and approachable to members of the pensions industry. His legacy will be huge in terms of the changes he introduced for auto-enrolment, state pension reform and freedom and choice for pensioners.”

Barnett Waddingham senior pension consultant Malcolm McLean said it would “no doubt be a great disappointment to many within the pensions industry” to hear the news.

Webb is someone who “understands the industry” and has “worked hard to establish a long-term programme of action,” said GenLife managing director Nick Ayton.