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Bright Blue and the Fabian Society are conducting a call for written evidence to examine the case for and nature of an independent pensions commission.

The written evidence which Bright Blue receives will make a vital contribution to our policy formulation and will inform a final report which is likely to be published later in 2019.

The idea of a permanent independent pensions commission has been proposed before, including by Lord Turner’s 2003-2005 pensions commission, the Work and Pensions Select Committee and a 2016 review of pensions policy commissioned by the Labour Party.

However, the proposal has not been taken forward by any government or political party. This is surprising considering the current Government’s enthusiasm for establishing independent, arms-length advisory and accountability bodies such as the Office for Budget Responsibility and National Infrastructure Commission.

In 2017-2018, the Fabian Society and Bright Blue conducted a joint project examining the scope for cross-party agreement on the next stage of workplace pensions reform. Saving for the future presented the views of politicians from left and right, as well as employers, trade unions and experts. Consensus continued? by Andrew Harrop and Ryan Shorthouse explored the extent to which the Labour and Conservative parties can agree on the direction of pensions policy and found considerable common ground.

Our new project is developing this joint work further to explore the institutional machinery that might be required to establish long-term continuity and consensus-building on pensions policy – for instance, a permanent independent pensions commission.

The project is examining the remit and effectiveness of non-departmental advisory and accountability organisations in other policy areas, both in the UK and internationally, to see what learning can be applied in shaping a new Pensions Commission.

All submissions should be sent to Jason Brock (jason.brock@fabians.org.uk) by 6pm on Tuesday 20th August, 2019. Respondents should not feel obligated to answer every question – only the ones relevant to their field of expertise. The key questions that we would like submissions for written evidence to answer are as follows:

  1. What would be the advantages and disadvantages of establishing a permanent independent UK pensions commission?
  2. Why have previous proposals for a pensions commission not progressed?
  3. What are the strengths and weaknesses of existing models for independent advisory and scrutiny bodies – in the UK and overseas?
  4. What is the optimal design of an independent advisory and scrutiny body to ensure its effectiveness?
  5. If a pensions commission is established:
      • What should its aims be?
      • What issues should be within its remit and what should be excluded?
      • What should be done to ensure that it is independent and influential?
      • How should it relate to other institutions within the pensions landscape?