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New pensions secretary is a part of the family

Gordon Brown yesterday appointed Yvette Cooper as the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, replacing James Purnell who resigned from the Cabinet just days ago. Yvette Cooper is the wife of Childrens School Secretary Ed balls and said to be part of Gordon Brown's "inner circle". She becomes the ninth Secretary for Work and Pensions since Labour came to power in 1997. Is this position something of a poisoned chalice?

There's no doubt that the pensions industry in the UK is in turmoil after a number of taxation changes, statistical revisions by the Treasury and the ongoing collapse of final salary pension schemes. When you also take into account the fact that the UK state pension is falling in real terms year-on-year this is something of a difficult position to say the least. There are also many UK corporate entities with pension fund deficits in the billions of pounds which are now looking to transfer member benefits into money purchase schemes, which hold no additional liabilities for the underlying company sponsor.

It will be interesting to see if there are any changes in pension regulations between now and the next general election and how Miss Cooper responds to this sizeable challenge.

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