Since Richard Harrington’s appointment as parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Work and Pensions in July 2016, there has been much industry speculation about his priorities and commitment to existing pension reforms and proposed changes.
Harrington stepped in to the role previously filled by Baroness Ros Altmann in her former position as pensions minister. His appointment formed part of a wider cabinet reshuffle in the wake of June’s EU referendum result, David Cameron’s resignation and Theresa May’s subsequent appointment as prime minister.
Prior to his new role, Harrington was parliamentary under secretary of state jointly at the Home Office, the Department for Communities and Local Government, and the Department for International Development, with responsibility for cross-government coordination for the resettlement of Syrian refugees. The conservative politician has been MP for Watford since 2010.
The remit of the parliamentary under secretary of state for pensions includes pensioner benefits, the state pension age review, credit unions, private and occupational pensions, and the oversight of pensions arms-length bodies, such as The Pensions Regulator and Pension Protection Fund.
Harrington has stated that he is keen to maintain the momentum that currently surrounds pension reform. His priorities include the continued delivery of auto-enrolment and the new state pension, and bringing the 2017 Pensions Bill to fruition. He will also take a closer look at regulations surrounding master trusts, improving available guidance, as well as addressing ‘excessive’ exit fees.
One item high on Harrington’s agenda is encouraging younger generations to start saving for pensions earlier, creating a savings culture that spans throughout employees’ careers.
Writing for Employee Benefits’ sister title Money Marketing, Harrington said: “I want people to enjoy a more financially secure retirement, and my task now is to continue the pensions revolution and ensure the changes we have made over the last year set people on the right path for later years; whether that is through automatic-enrolment, the new state pension or providing additional protections for those enrolled in master trusts in the upcoming Pensions Bill.”