UK - The Department for Work and Pensions has appointed former Unilever UK head of pensions Chris Lewin to help it cut red tape.

Lewin and Ed Sweeney, joint deputy general secretary of the Amicus union, were named as external reviewers. The move is part of the deregulatory review set out in the White Paper on pensions presented by the government earlier this week.

The external reviewers "have been appointed to drive forward a shake-up of pensions regulation with the goal of cutting cost and red-tape for employers," the department said in a press release.

"It is important that we seek consensus on the regulatory balance required between member protection and encouraging employer provision of pensions. This is why one reviewer comes from a union background and the other from a background of pensions management," a spokesman for the DWP told IPE.

Lewin stepped down as Unilever's UK pension head at the end of 2003 after over five years in the role. Sweeney will work with the already established external advisory group to "identify potential areas for change and to develop proposals, based upon robust analysis". An initial report is to be presented to the government by spring 2007.

The advisory group includes representatives of business, pensions industry, and unions.

Among the delegates are representatives from the Association of British Insurers, Association of Consulting Actuaries, Association of Pension Lawyers, Confederation of British Industry, Faculty and Institute of Actuaries, Investment Management Association, National Association of Pension Funds, Society of Pension Consultants, the SAUL (Superannuation Arrangements for the University of London) Trustee Company, the Trades Union Congress, and Amicus.

"This review is a real opportunity to cut excess red tape around private pensions, and reduce the legislative burden on those employers who already offer their employees a good quality scheme and an employer contribution," Minister for Pensions Reform James Purnell commented.

Lewin is a fellow of the Pensions Management Institute and served for many years on the NAPF Council and the Council of the Pensions Advisory Service. He led a recent NAPF investigation into training standards for people working in various pensions roles. "He is well acquainted with the issues that pension schemes face," the DWP noted.