Hitting out at those who have said that the review the Prime Minister has ordered into the planned pension reforms mean the Government is considering scrapping the plan, Iain Duncan Smith claimed in an interview that this was certainly not the case: “Let me be very clear, this Government will deliver these reforms – on time and on budget,” he said to a reporter for the Daily Mail.
There has been some discussion that the pension reforms could see the Conservatives lose popularity with older voters, who are traditionally one of their strongest bases. The reforms are due to come in in 2015, just as the nation is getting ready to go to the polls in the next general election, so if it is unpopular the backlash could be severe.
However, Mr Duncan Smith took the opportunity to explain that he did not think this would be the case, reiterating the Government’s reasoning behind the changes: “Millions in this country are trapped in benefit dependency. The problems are too deep and complex to allow more years to slip by without delivering change. We are in the process of taking six means tested benefits and tax credits and turning them into one simple, easy to understand and easy to claim universal credit.”
However, he commented on the reforms as a whole and seemed to be unwilling to be pinned down about pensions themselves. It’s also not unheard of for a minister to deliver one message, only for the party line to change later, leaving him to muddle his way out of the situation. By being effusive with his answer, Duncan Smith can later claim that the reforms will indeed go ahead, it is just the pensions that are being delayed (if they indeed are).
We won’t know for certain until after the review concludes, but the changes to the plan will doubtless have a big impact on the way people save and plan for their retirement.