Reform Party manifesto reveals plans for pension review

The Reform Party has published its 2024 manifesto, announcing plans to review the UK pension system amid concerns that the current pension system is “riddled with complexity, huge cost and poor returns leading to less uptake”.

Announcing the plans for the review in its manifesto, Our Contract with You, Reform argued that countries like Australia “do savings and pensions much better and cheaper than we do and from a much younger age".

More broadly, the party also pledged to introduce a new ownership model for critical national infrastructure that would bring 50 per cent of each utility into public ownership with the other 50 per cent being owned by UK pension funds, noting that this would bring “new expertise” and “better management”.

In addition to this, the party pledged to “end the Mineworkers Pension Scandal” and said that it accepted the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee 2021 recommendations in full to amend the Mineworkers Pension Scheme arrangements so that all the scheme’s surpluses accrue to the mineworkers.

Reform also promised to increase the minimum income threshold for income tax to £20,000 and said this would save “every worker almost £1,500 per year.”

However, Hargreaves Lansdown head of retirement, Helen Morrissey, noted that the triple lock didn’t “even get a mention”, either meaning it is “so ingrained within the system that it doesn’t need to be mentioned or it could mean it’s for the chop”.

Despite this, Morrisey said the plans to increase the minimum income threshold for income tax would act as a “boost for pensioners who have found frozen thresholds are pulling them into tax-paying territory”.

She said this proposal would be more favourable for working-aged people who feel the Conservative’s triple lock plus pledge benefits pensioners at the expense of younger people.

Morrissey also commented on the manifesto’s mention of encouraging pension schemes to invest in the UK, noting that both the Conservatives and Labour have similar ambitions.

“Other parties have also promised to do an overarching review, and it is sorely needed to make sure people get the best retirement outcomes they can," she added.

“Reform UK is highlighting the Australian model as somewhere that does pensions better than us, so we could see a push to increase minimum pension contributions as well as a move towards scheme consolidation.

"It has outlined bold plans whereby 50 per cent of each national utility would be managed by the UK’s pension funds though details as to how this would work are scant.”

However, Broadstone head of market engagement, Simon Kew, warned that while Australia’s system is “commendable”, it is important to recognise the “significant structural and contextual differences” between the UK and Australia.

Kew said that implementing Australia's pension model in its entirety here would entail “substantial financial implications and logistical challenges” and the effectiveness of pension reforms would “heavily depend on the thoroughness of their implementation strategies”.

He added: “It is not enough to outline broad aspirations, policymakers must map out concrete, actionable steps to ensure meaningful impact and consider the unique characteristics of our existing pension framework and the needs of both members and trustees.

“This will require detailed planning, stakeholder engagement, and a clear understanding of the financial and administrative demands involved. Only through such diligent efforts can we hope to see genuine improvements in our pension system that will benefit all stakeholders involved.”

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