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Commenting on the announcement that the restrictions on NEST would be lifted Darren Philp, Director of Policy and Market Engagement at The People’s Pension, said:
“The announcement made on 8 September 2014 confirms the government’s intention to leave the majority of restrictions in place until 2017, with individual restrictions being removed to coincide with automatic transfers. This provides certainty for businesses, consumers and the pensions market and crucially ensures that the government-backed scheme concentrates on what it was originally established and funded for, making automatic enrolment work. Significant challenges remain with many hundreds of thousands of small employers still to stage.
“Before removing the restrictions though, we think that careful thought needs to be given to the market impact. As an example, in the event that the ban on transfers is lifted, NEST’s dual charging structure will either give them an unfair advantage or it will be a disadvantage, depending on whether the initial service charge is applied to the transfer or not. Furthermore, we believe consideration needs to be given to whether market oversight should be carried out by a body which is independent from the DWP, who are naturally conflicted in this role.
“Above all we want to see a level playing field in the pensions industry. This will drive competition and innovation and lead to better outcomes for consumers, the taxpayer and the wider economy. But this has to work both ways.”