Royal London Calls For Commission For Later-life Financial Provision
Friday 17th October 2014
Independent body should look at all aspects of retirement and longevity planning
Royal London the UK’s largest mutual insurer has called for a new independent Commission to set the direction of policy on pensions, retirement income, and later life financial provision. The Commission should consider not only pensions and retirement income policy but also the issues facing the growing elderly population of the UK.
The UK population is living longer but increasing numbers of the elderly are in poor health. This puts a strain on their retirement income as the costs of care mount. So whilst auto enrolment means that more people are saving in a workplace pension than ever, the demands on income in retirement are also increasing.
Phil Loney, Royal London Group CEO, said;
“The Turner Commission took a long term view of pension reform and created a political consensus over what should be done to get the UK population saving for retirement. Those changes are being successfully implemented. However the revolution brought about by the “freedoms” announced in the Budget means that a similar long term approach must be taken over the ways people can access that pension and convert it into an income. At present, policy around retirement planning is becoming too short-term and “political”. There is nothing to stop a future Government from reversing some of the recent policy decisions on which we are building. This kind of uncertainty can only act as a disincentive for people to save for the future. That is why we are calling for a Commission to look at all aspects of later-life financial provision, and to provide a basis for a lasting political consensus.
“Government has recognised that the retirement income options that people will face are now very complex. That is why they guaranteed a “Guidance” session for all approaching retirement. But we know that’s not enough. The complexities of tax, means testing and inheritance planning mean many people will need regulated financial advice to get the best from these reforms. For most people this advice is unavailable or unaffordable. There needs to be a fresh look at how we can make financial advice more affordable and available for the wider general public. Access to financial advice should not be a privilege that is only affordable for the well off.
“Increasingly the ageing population will need long term or residential care. We have yet to crack the problem of how this care is funded. With increasing age people become vulnerable and cannot take their own financial decisions safely. The number of people suffering from Alzheimer's is set to increase from 850,000 today to 2 million by 2051. Regulators are alert to the issue of vulnerable consumers but so far with little action. The Commission we are calling for could look at these issues perhaps recommending that whenever someone makes a Will they must not only appoint Executors but also appoint someone with Power of Attorney over their affairs in the case of mental incapacity.
“The only way we can resolve issues such as advice and long-term care is to consider them away from day to day politics. These issues are long term and many of the required solutions may be considered politically unpopular.
“We are aware that others have been calling for a pension commission for similar reasons but we believe it’s essential that all the issues impacting the financing of later life are considered together, not just pensions. Only then can a coherent, sustainable strategy be developed which policymakers and industry can deliver together and that will enable the British public to save with confidence for their long term futures.”
For further information please contact:
Gareth Evans, Head of Corporate Affairs
0207 506 6715
About Royal London:
Royal London is the largest mutual life and pensions company in the UK with Group funds under management of £77.0 billion. Group businesses serve around 5.3 million customers and employ over 2,900 people. (Figures quoted are as at 30 June 2014).
Over the next two years the Group is moving to operate all of its UK life, pension and investment business under a new version of the Royal London brand. Royal London Asset Management is now under the new master-brand and the Scottish Life, Scottish Provident and Bright Grey brands will migrate over the next 18 months. The Group's wrap platform will remain branded Ascentric.