The UK opposition party and industry figures have bemoaned an expected delay in the introduction of a charge cap on defined contribution (DC) pension schemes.
Labour spokesman for pensions, Gregg McClymont, said government ministers seemed to be in “full-scale retreat” on the charges debate after already failing to act sooner.
The government had been expected to impose a cap on the charge DC providers can place on auto-enrolment schemes by April this year.
The Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) launched a consultation in October 2013, looking at imposing either a 0.75% cap, a 1% cap or a more flexible 0.75-1% charge, where the scheme must explain any charge above 0.75%.
The results of the consultation, which closed in December, were expected imminently to allow for implementation by April.
However, towards the end of 2013, the regulatory policy committee, the body responsible for the scrutiny of government policies, branded its charges consultation as “not fit for purpose”.
As a result, as revealed in the Financial Times, the government is expected to delay any imposed cap on charges to at least April 2015.
A spokesman for the DWP did not deny the delay, but said it would not comment on speculation.
He added that the government would ensure it gets the complex consultation right and confirm a publication date in due course.
McClymont said the government needed to explain why the charges debate was being kicked into the long grass.
“Is it chaos and disarray within government, or have ministers caved into the vested interests of the fund managers and pension giants?” he asked.
Adrian Boulding, pensions strategy director at Legal & General, an insurer that reduced its charge on auto-enrolment schemes to 0.5% in anticipation of the cap, said he was disappointed.
“We’ve been seeing a delay since December,” he said. “When the consultation closed, the minister said he hoped to come back with an answer quickly. It soon became apparent it was going to spend longer dealing with the issues.”
Head of policy at master trust provider B&CE, Darren Philp, said it was positive the government had realised the issue’s complexity, but it still needed to be fixed with firm action.
He added: “It is right to take their time and address the real issues. But we don’t want it to take too long, so what we really need is for the government to roll its sleeves up and work through the issues, developing something that works.”