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We look at five key issues relevant to people working out how to fund their retirement

The forthcoming general election on 8 June is likely to be a bun fight for the so-called ‘grey vote’. Labour has already made its big pitch to older people with its ‘Pensions Pledge Card’, while the Conservatives have traditionally polled strongly among this demographic.

From the so-called triple-lock to the state pension age and pensions tax relief, retirement issues are likely to be front-and-centre of all parties’ general election campaigns.

State pension triple-lock

Under the triple-lock guarantee, the state pension increases each year in line with the highest of either the rise in average earnings, consumer price inflation or 2.5%.

While Labour has promised to retain the policy until 2025, it remains unclear where the Conservatives stand.

Theresa May will be nervous about potentially angering the pensioners whose votes will be crucial in the final outcome of the election.

In their 2015 manifesto, the Liberal Democrats pledged to make the triple-lock permanent, so it’s a fair bet they will repeat that promise this time round.

Both John Cridland’s independent state pension age review and the influential Work and Pensions Committee have said the policy should be scrapped.

State pension age review

Going into a general election on a manifesto commitment to increase the state pension age would be extremely risky.

The Government is scheduled to respond to the Cridland state pension age review – which suggested the state pension age should rise faster than under current plans – in May this year.

Given the political sensitivities surrounding the decision, it would be no surprise if the Conservatives quietly shelve any decision on until after the vote is done and dusted.

The other political parties, and particularly Labour, could use the election as a platform to promise not to enact the state pension age rises proposed by Cridland’s review.

Such a policy clearly has short-term appeal but with people living longer and state pension costs expected to rise, Jeremy Corbyn would need to explain how the party would ensure that the system remains sustainable in the long-term.

Pension tax relief

When the Government u-turned earlier this year on plans to increase National Insurance contributions for the self-employed, it did so purely because the decision broke a manifesto pledge.

Chancellor Philip Hammond argued the policy remained fair given the increased entitlements these workers now receive under the single-tier state pension. Logic dictates this policy should form part of the Conservative’s 2017 manifesto.

Elections have a funny habit of shifting political priorities and it would be no surprise to see Theresa May kick this can as far down the road as possible.

If this is the case, the Conservatives will still need to fill a £2bn black hole from the Budget, with reports suggesting annual allowance for pension tax relief could be in the firing line.

Permanently cutting savings incentives to fill a short-term financial gap would be awful policymaking and could also prove unpopular among the electorate.

If the Conservatives claim a significant victory, it would be no surprise to see the party revisit various radical reform proposals. These include a possible ‘Pension ISA’ or flat-rate of relief for all taxpayers.

Pension scams clampdown

The momentum behind banning pension cold-calling and taking the fight to scammers more broadly seemed unstoppable ahead of the Autumn Statement last year.

But five months on from the announcement of a long overdue clampdown on fraudsters, the Government has still not confirmed when the ban will be introduced or how other measures will be implemented.

The Brexit preparations already risked sapping Treasury time and energy away from this important work. With a snap election now on the horizon, we are deeply concerned this vital consultation will be kicked into the long grass. This must not happen.

The industry, advisers and regulators have already stepped up efforts to inform and educate the public about the risks of pension scams.

While such work can be effective, only the Government can put in place barriers to the business models used by these firms to fleece often vulnerable savers out of their hard-earned pensions. Every day that action is delayed, the more savers are put at risk of falling victim to fraudsters.

In the meantime, if you receive a call out of the blue about your pension from someone you don’t know, the best thing to do is hang up the phone.

Clear long-term policy direction on pensions

Theresa May has talked of the need to deliver stability and security for the UK as a whole. The Government has so far failed to deliver on these aims for pensions, an area crying out for certainty and long-term thinking.

The UK needs its leaders to present a long-term savings vision with stability at its core. This should include a pledge to end incessant tinkering with the rules governing pensions. Savers need to be confident the ground won’t shift beneath their feet as they plan for the future.

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