Guy Opperman re-appointed as pensions minister

Hannah Godfrey reports...

Guy Opperman has retained his post as pensions and financial inclusion minister, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed.

It comes after the general election on 12 December, in which Opperman remained Conservative MP in his constituency, Hexham, as his party received the largest majority in government since Margaret Thatcher won her third term in 1987.

Thérèse Coffey has also been re-appointed as secretary of state for work and pensions, a post she has held for 102 days after taking over from Amber Rudd in September. This followed a minor government reshuffle by prime minister Boris Johnson.

Opperman continues after 918 days in the role, which he took over in 2017, during which he has become the second-longest serving junior minister for pensions since 1998.

If he stays in office until 8 June 2022, Opperman will be the longest serving pensions minister since Sir Steve Webb, who survived 1,822 days in the role under the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition.

During his tenure, Opperman has overseen the framework for collective defined contribution schemes, the pensions dashboard, the auto-enrolment (AE) review in late-2017, and enhanced disclosures of both environmental, social and governance issues and transaction costs in pension schemes.

He will now be expected to continue to see through the pension schemes bill, which was delayed due to political uncertainty surrounding the election.

The People’s Pension director of policy and former shadow pensions minister Gregg McClymont said he was “delighted” that Opperman has retained his post.

He said: “Pensions are a long-term project and it is crucial to have continuity in policy approach. We hope this means a smooth passage through Parliament of the pensions schemes bill, which is a vital step towards making the pensions dashboard a real success.

“The minister’s focus must be on building on the huge success of AE by bringing more workers under the scheme. Lowering the minimum age from 22 to 18; decreasing the earnings threshold from £10,000 to the primary national insurance threshold and calculating people’s pension contributions from the first pound they earn could put billions more into savers pension pots.

“It’s also crucial that the government comes good on its manifesto pledge and provides a firm timeline to review the tax flaw that’s depriving more than 1.7million lower earners of much-needed tax relief on their pension contributions. Fairness demands this issue is fixed.”

The Conservative win means the party can implement its pensions manifesto pledges announced at the end of last month, which stated it will hold reviews of the tapered annual allowance and net-pay schemes.  It also outlined plans to reintroduce the pension schemes bill and raise the National Insurance threshold.