Paul Maynard has been confirmed as the pensions minister following Laura Trott’s promotion to chief secretary to the Treasury.
The MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys replaces Trott as under-secretary at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and as the pensions minister.
He has been parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Transport, a post he held between July 2019 and February 2020. Before that he was parliamentary undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Justice for three months. He has also been a government whip.
Before entering parliament in 2010, the 47-year-old was a political adviser and speechwriter for MPs Liam Fox and William Hague, the latter when he was leader of the Conservative Party.
Maynard, who has cerebral palsy and is a disability campaigner, is the seventh pensions minister since the Conservatives took power in 2010 as part of a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.
Though one pensions minister, Liberal Democrat MP Steve Webb, held the role for just short of five years until May 2015, there has since been something of a revolving door on the department.
The latest change means that Trott was pensions minister position for a little over a year. She made a good impression within the pensions industry and oversaw, among other things, the thumbs-up to UK’s collective defined contribution (CDC) system. She was seen as a rising star within the Tory party, something borne out by her promotion to second-in-command at the Treasury.
She gave a reasonably open interview to portfolio institutional last year setting out her priorities.
More questions than answers
Pensions, it could be argued, have become the forgotten brief within government. An indication of this was the King’s Speech, which offered no mention of pensions legislation.
This is despite the government setting out some fairly ambitious reform plans in the summer: covering defined benefit and defined contribution, accumulation and decumulation, the consolidation of pension funds and the quality of those managing and advising pensions.
Most of these changes require primary legislation, which raises a question of stasis on these issues.
Nigel Peaple, director policy and advocacy, at the PLSA, commented: “The absence of a Pensions Bill in the King’s Speech does mean we won’t have a statutory basis for some of these initiatives, for example, support for savers at retirement, DB superfunds, and small pots.”
In this context, David Brooks, head of policy at Broadstone, said Maynard is in an unenviable position. “The new pensions minister appears to have an unenviable task, he has probably 18 months at most to deal with a raft of slow moving or hard to implement reform.”
There remain, therefore, more questions than answers about the government’s approach to pensions.