People could be nudged to consider work, wealth and wellbeing earlier on in life

Pensions and financial inclusion minister Guy Opperman suggested people could receive prompts to consider their options during life milestones.

Guy Opperman
Guy Opperman

People could be given nudges earlier in their adult lives to help their wealth and overall wellbeing, pensions and financial inclusion minister Guy Opperman has suggested.

They could possibly receive prompts to consider their options during life milestones such as a first job, a wedding or civil partnership, or when they have their first child.

Mr Opperman was speaking at the Work and Pensions Committee’s inquiry into saving for later life.

The Government-backed Pension Wise service helps over-50s consider their retirement options.

Mr Opperman said: “The blunt truth is that what we have focused on primarily is the period of time between 50 and 65.

“That’s what successive governments have looked at in this space.”

He later continued: “I’m trying to develop some private sector-led positive interventions of really different ways of looking at early interventions.

“And the purpose of that is I want people to look at their work, wealth and wellbeing before the age of 50…

“There’s a commissioning process that is ongoing, as you can imagine that is tortuous…

“If I do nothing else I want to do an earlier intervention before the age of 50.

“Yes, obviously I care about retirement, but I’m also interested in wellbeing at work and the holistic view.”

He added: “Interventions like a ‘mid-life MOT’ should actually begin way earlier.

“Which is why I say, your first job, your marriage, or civil partnership, your first child – these are three very, very big interventions where we would love the state to do a nudge, in whatever shape or form, that says ‘Have you looked at your work, your wealth and your wellbeing?'”

Mr Opperman said options for people to consider could include private pensions, health checks and lifelong learning.

“Doing that at different stages of your life seems to me a very, very good policy intervention which will trigger a change of behaviour,” he said.

He also suggested the possibility of having tax breaks for businesses offering a mid-life MOT.

“To be honest, that’s for the future; I’ve got to get the product right first,” he told MPs.

Mr Opperman also talked about the possibility of increasing minimum workplace pension contributions from 8% to 12% in the longer term.

He said other fiscal pressures have to be taken into account “and there is no doubt that raising automatic enrolment contributions” and other workplace pension reforms would have an impact on employers and employees.

This year will mark a decade since automatic enrolment into workplace pensions started.

The initiative currently requires employers to automatically enrol employees who are over the age of 22 and earn at least £10,000 a year into a workplace pension scheme.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) recently said an action plan is now needed for the next 10 years.

Laughter was audible during the session when Mr Opperman was asked by Conservative MP Sir Desmond Swayne: “Comrade, why are you still a minister? A politician’s answer will suffice.”

Mr Opperman replied: “I could give you many, many answers, but this is Jo’s first select committee (Jo Gibson, an acting director at the Department for Work and Pensions who was sitting next to Mr Opperman).

“And were she to turn up to do a two-hour 10-minute session on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions and to find an empty chair next to her, that would be a grave and serious derogation of duty to the Department (for) Work and Pensions, who I hold in great esteem, having worked for them for five years.

“There are some wonderful civil servants there, most of whom I’ve agreed with on every single point…

“Also, why would I miss the main event in the House of Commons today, which of course is two hours and 10 minutes of the Work and Pensions Select Committee?”

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