New pensions minister Ros Altmann outlines her priorities in the role, including safeguarding the retirement ‘freedoms’ that were introduced last month.
Altmann said she aimed to “protect the pensioners of today and tomorrow” as she was welcomed into the Department for Work & Pensions.
She said her priorities were to “take forward work to bring in the new State Pension, help millions more to be enrolled into good quality workplace pension schemes, and safeguard new freedom and choice as to how people access their savings”.
The long-time pension campaigner’s selection into Prime Minister David Cameron’s new-look cabinet was considered surprising by some, though her appointment has largely been welcomed.
Altmann, who replaced the UK’s longest-serving pensions minister Steve Webb after the Liberal Democrat candidate lost his Thornbury & Yate constituency last week, is not an MP but is expected to be nominated to become a baroness, making her eligible to become a minister.
Retirement reforms first announced at Budget 2014 and rolled out on 6 April this year provide savers aged 55 or over extra freedoms over how they can access and spend their pots, though there are concerns over consumers’ understanding of the tax implications of ‘early’ access.
In a statement, Altmann said: “For many years it has been my ambition to make pensions work better for everyone and improve people’s later-life incomes. Up to now, that has been as an independent policy expert. I am delighted to now have the opportunity to make a difference from within government.
“As our population ages, it is more important than ever to help, encourage and empower people to plan and prepare for their later years.
“My priorities are clear: to strengthen British pensions, improve later life incomes, and protect the pensioners of today and tomorrow.”