UK – Pensions minister John Hutton has invited key industry stakeholders to get involved in government’s drive to cut ‘red tape’ – excessive bureaucracy - to make pensions simpler and less burdened with regulation.

Speaking at the 2006 NAPF annual conference in London last night, Hutton discussed the launch next month of a ‘Simplification Advisory Group’ to guide the direction of a rolling deregulatory review.

“The White Paper gave a list of possible elements for this review. I want to make it clear today - that this list is the minimum of what we are prepared to consider. We want the deregulation agenda to be led by those of you out there who are actually involved at the sharp end of pension provision,” said Hutton.

"And we want you to drive both the scope and content of this review. Nothing is off the table. Our objective is not about merely re-writing legislation or tinkering around the edges but a real drive to cut red tape and to make it easier for you to deliver workplace pensions.”

According to Hutton, a reduction in pensions complexity will take the UK further towards a more streamlined and less bureaucratic system.

“We have to strike the right balance between simplification and protection – between deregulation and good governance. You can help us get this balance right,” he told delegates.

The NAPF – praised by government for being a pivotal voice in the national pensions debate – will be one of the stakeholders in the advisory group. It remains unclear how many other organisations have signed up to the group so far.
Yesterday, delegates were told that Hutton could come to regret not establishing a permanent, independent pensions body in the wake of the outgoing Pensions Commission under Adair Turner.

Former pensions minister John Denham and Liberal Democrat pensions spokesperson David Laws called for a permanent body and “mini-Turner” respectively to oversee public sector pensions.

In response to questions from delegates about this, Hutton stated that periodic reviews would retain the quality of the pensions debate versus creating another “quango”.

Hutton added that he did not wish to set up a non-departmental body since the reforms are designed to endure for many years in the future.