Concerns have been expressed by leading pension experts at the news that Richard Harrington has been moved from his role as pensions minister to the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy as part of Theresa May's cabinet reshuffle.
After Harrington being in the post for just 11 months, Guy Opperman, MP for Hexham has been given the job. Opperman, an MP since 2010 and who was made whip in 2015 comes into the job facing a pile of pressing issues for the pensions industry including the thorny problems of whether the pensions triple lock will be abolished, the decision whether or not to raise the state pension age to 68, tax relief on savings as well as the pension issues for expats following the Brexit decision. Pensions expert, Jon Greer expressed his frustration at the lack of continuity in the role of pensions minister:
"The role of pensions minister has been used in a game of musical chairs for some time now. With Richard Harrington moving into a new role and Guy Opperman taking up the position of parliamentary under-secretary we are set for yet another minister overseeing pensions policy. It means 12 ministers have taken the reins on pensions since the turn of the century."
Former pensions minister Steve Webb also expressed his concern at the ' revolving' door nature of the job, saying that it is difficult to achieve any sort of consistency and continuity of policy. However, he does point out that there is some hope in the new appointment.
"It is unfortunate that we seem to have gone back to the old 'revolving door' of changing the pensions minister every year. This is a complex and technical subject area and it takes time to understand the issues. Constantly replacing the responsible minister makes it hard to get any consistency and continuity in policy."
"The one glimmer of hope is the appointment of David Gauke as Secretary of State. David Gauke was a Treasury minister working on pensions through the 2010-15 Parliament and will know a lot about the subject. His role is therefore likely to be more significant in determining the direction of pension policy."
A change has also been seen at the top of the Department for Work and Pensions, as David Gauke is promoted from the Treasury to become secretary of state in place of Damian Green.