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UK names Timms as minister of state for pensions

UK – The ministerial team at the Department for Work and Pensions has been completed with the appointment of Stephen Timms as minister of state for pensions.

Timms, 50, was previously Financial Secretary to the Treasury and joins a department under new secretary of state David Blunkett. He takes over from Malcolm Wicks. Margaret Hodge becomes minister of state for work.

Before joining the Treasury in 2004, Timms, MP for East Ham in London, was at the Department of Trade and Industry.

Blunkett said: ““We have an enormous amount to do: continuing to work towards an unprecedented 80% employment rate; modernising and improving our service to customers; building a legislative programme to reform the old Incapacity Benefit and delivering a long-term solution to the pensions challenge.

“These are major issues which profoundly affect all of us. I want us to work together, with the department, to engage the citizens of this country to help us find the solutions.”

Meanwhile, the National Association of Pension Funds says it is to launch a new service called PolicyWatch.

“This policy newsletter will be sent to all members once a fortnight, starting this Friday,” said chief executive Christine Farnish. It will brief readers on the NAPF’s policy, research and representational work and also cover parliamentary and media news.

Separately, Hewitt Associates has demanded that the government provide clarity on funding guidance for pensions.

"In the Regulator's guidance it states that funding assumptions 'must be chosen prudently',” said consultant Kevin Wesbroom. “The whole guidance is littered with references to prudence.

“We have called on the government and The Pensions Regulator to clarify just how much caution trustees and companies should adopt in setting their funding policy, as well as to set out the boundaries of acceptable practice.

“The lack of clarity on this is potentially very damaging.”

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