Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and pensions secretary, has written to the prime minister asking whether the government has abandoned its plan to cap “excessive” pension fees and charges.
Ms Reeves has sent her letter to Downing Street in response to suggestions that the coalition could postpone the plan until after the general election in May 2015 because the reform was “too complicated”.
Last month Steve Webb, the pensions minister, announced that the cap – which had been intended for this April – would now not be introduced until April 2015 at the earliest.
Mr Webb, who had previously promised a “full frontal assault” on charges, said that the delay was “right” and “fair” to avoid imposing burdens on business.
He said he remained “committed” to tackling high pension charges and that he was still “strongly minded” to limit them. But he did not set a date for implementation.
The minister argued that the extra time was needed for companies to prepare for automatic enrolment. That prompted anger from consumer campaigners, who said it was “shameful” that pension groups appeared to have succeeded in lobbying for the delay.
Ms Reeves, in her letter, said that savers expected the government to “put their interests first” and take action to protect them from “rip-off” fees.
She urged David Cameron to clarify whether the government was considering abandoning the plans for a cap altogether. The Labour MP also asked whether Mr Cameron would commit to a cap on fees before the 2015 election.
One senior coalition source said that no decision had yet been made. “We are still strongly minded to do this, we are still consulting on the issue and we intend to make a further announcement later in the year,” he said.
The original proposal set out options, including an outright ban on fees higher than 0.75 per cent, or 1 per cent for savers automatically enrolled in a workplace pension.
“Any climb down by government on capping rip off pension fees and charges would cost savers millions of pounds of their hard-earned retirement income,” said Ms Reeves.
“Reports that the Treasury and the DWP are ‘in conflict’ over a cap on pensions fees are extremely unsettling at a time when savers are losing their hard earned income.”
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