Sunday, 5 October 2014

Steve Webb's Autumn Conference speech

In his speech to Autumn Conference, Liberal Democrat Pensions Minister Steve Webb issued a warning to the financial services industry to make sure they put customers at the centre of their approach and stress that we cannot balance the books on the backs of the poor.

He said:

“I am quite attracted to the idea that when you start a job the norm is that each time you get a pay rise a part of the extra cash goes into your pension… You could opt out of this ‘automatic escalation’ but unless you actively chose to opt out, you would gradually contribute more.”

On welfare:

“Two years ago, George Osborne told the Conservative party conference that we should “never balance the budget on the backs of the poor”.

“Well, I agree with George!

“That’s to say, I agree with what the Chancellor said in 2012, not with what he plans to do in the next Parliament.”

On the financial services industry:

“There will be a legal right to impartial guidance on your options… we will need to make sure that as the financial services industry creates new products and options to meet these new freedoms, we put the consumer front and centre of our approach….I am clear as a Liberal Democrat that we must watch the industry like a hawk and step in if necessary.”

Read the speech in full here.