Party Conference 2019

Conservative conference fringe event 2019: Getting the UK retirement ready in the age of auto-enrolment and pension freedoms

This event, held with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, focused on the recent changes pension policy, auto-enrolment has created millions of new savers, whilst pension freedoms has given individuals greater e control over how to spend their savings. The event looked for ways to help savers make the most of these new opportunities.


Guy Opperman MP, Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion
Nigel Mills MP, Member for Amber Valley, Member of Work and Pensions Committee
Mark Williams, Chair of the Pensions Board, Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
Laura Miller, freelance financial journalist

Chair: Kathryn Petrie, Chief Economist, Social Market Foundation

Nigel Mills MP stated that auto-enrolment has been a huge success but it is not an end destination for getting the UK workforce “retirement ready”. People are still not saving enough for retirement:

“I hope more businesses start thinking about getting employees the best possible pension, rather than just going for the cheapest scheme.”

Mark Williams stated that auto-enrolment is just the start of getting the UK retirement ready. People aren’t saving enough and we need to ensure more workers are covered by auto-enrolment. Technology and the pensions dashboard can help get people more engaged in retirement planning.

Moreover, a regulator is needed to monitor the adequacy of defined contribution pension schemes, as at the moment there is a blind spot in the regulatory framework.

Laura Miller agreed, saying more people should consider a mixture of drawdown and an annuity in retirement. She also highlighted the differences in pension saving between men and women:

“I agree with others on the panel. Auto-enrolment is not enough to give most people an adequate retirement income. Women’s pensions are on average 40 percent less than men’s. And pensions are not shared at divorce. Huge issues here.”

Miller recommended that perhaps husbands should top us wives’ pension pots when they take time out of the labour market to look after children. She also reported that half of people are taking their pension pots without financial advice. And many are losing money to scams.

Guy Opperman, stated that: “We need to go a lot further than the 8 percent pension contributions from auto-enrolment”. He also suggested that a “Collective Defined Contribution pensions could be a good ‘third way’ for pensions.”

Opperman suggested that maybe we need another cross=party Pensions Commission to tackle some of the key issues around retirement in the long term, this would help to ensure cross-party consensus. For instance, letting people use their pension pot to get on the property ladder could increase engagement with pensions among young people.

Short-term solutions include making it easier for people to engage with their pension savings: “It should be very easy for people to access information about their pension on their mobile phone.”

The busy event was streamed live on Twitter, if you would like to watch it in full:


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