Leeds MP demands apology for pensions U-turn

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The Government has been accused of not trusting the public with their own finances, after quietly ditching plans to give people more control over their pensions.

Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland lambsted ministers for the decision yesterday, pointing out that it had been one of the Government’s “flagship” announcements in the 2014 budget. He suggested that ministers had caved to industry lobbyists on the policy, and demanded an apology for the “many people... who have spent time and money” examining their options, only to learn the scheme had been scrapped.

The criticisms from the Lib Dem MP follow Tuesday’s reports that the Treasury was abandoning plans to allow people to sell on their retirement annuities.

The programme became the latest in a series of Cameron-era policies to be jettisoned by Theresa May’s administration – a set which also includes Help to Buy mortgages and the commitment to a budget surplus by 2020.

Confronting pensions ministers on Wednesday, Mr Mulholland said it was “disgraceful” that the Government had not announced the decision in Parliament. He asked ministers to clarify the actions they are taking “to inform those who have not cashed in their annuity that they will no longer be able to do so”.

“The move towards pension freedoms was the flagship announcement in the budget just two years ago in 2014... it was specifically included in the manifesto,” he said. “This is a huge u-turn announced after clear lobbying by the industry that never really subscribed to this.

“The pensions freedom plan was about trusting people with their money. Clearly this government has decided it no longer trusts people.

“[The Government] owes those who have spent time and money examining their options for retirement an apology.”

Pensions minister Simon Kirby repeated claims that the scheme did not offer value for money.

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