Reshuffle gives Hain and Purnell a 2012 focus

UK - UK prime minister Gordon Brown has appointed Peter Hain MP as the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Having previously served as Northern Ireland Secretary, Hain will now hold a dual role in Brown's cabinet as Secretary of State for Wales and head of the DWP ministry, where he will be charged with tackling pensions reform and the introduction of the National Pensions Savings Scheme in 2012.

Former pensions minister James Purnell MP has now been given the job of Culture, Media and Sport Secretary - a role which will see Purnell heavily involved in preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Other appointments include Alisdair Darling, a former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and most recently Secretary of State to the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI), as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The DTI is now being revamped to become the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, headed by former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, John Hutton.

Commenting on Hain's appointment, the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) said it has also sought to work  "positively" with DWP ministry and hopes Hain's arrival will continue that trend.

That said, Joanne Segars, chief executive of the NAPF, is already keen to point out Hain will have to get stuck into the role straight away.

"One of the first issues the new Minister will need to tackle is the growing regulatory burden currently facing workplace pensions schemes," said Segars.

"We have made it clear to Government that they need to come forward with some serious proposals to ease cost pressures on hard-pressed pension scheme sponsors.

"The new Minister will have an opportunity to act quickly - next month should see the publication of the report from the Government's two independent reviewers on de-regulation," she added.

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