We at Scottish Friendly were as surprised as anyone – less Downing Street insiders – when the Chancellor’s bold ISA and pension reforms were announced last month.
We were all the more taken unaware because another piece of policy relating to ISAs – in this case Junior ISAs – has been in the offing for over a year. Indeed it was announced back in Budget 2013 that the decision on the switching of Child Trust Funds to Junior ISAs would be put out to consultation, meaning the Government asks the industry to offer their opinions and recommendations on the proposal.
It was subsequently announced in January of this year that the policy would eventually come into effect…in April 2015.
So why, when a decision on transferring CTFs to Junior ISAs takes so long, would the chancellor make seemingly snap decisions on adult ISAs and pensions without, in the first instance, openly consulting the financial services industry.
Call me cynical but it smacks of going for the grey vote at the next election – as well as trying to catch the opposition on the hop, but all at the expense of making sure he’s got the numbers right.
While the ISA reforms are relatively low key in comparison – it’s entirely possible due to lack of consultation that George Osborne’s pension reforms could have far reaching and unforeseen consequences for the UK as a whole that might not surface for years.
By which time George will most probably be out of number eleven and out of office – just in time to pick up his pension.
Watch this space.