I think that pensions will be a focus of the general election, because this topic is always a political hot potato.
I don’t think any new government will back track on the new flexibilities offered following the 2014 Budget. Not only would it be a huge amount of work to unravel, but the changes are proving popular and bring in much needed additional tax revenue for the UK.
But I suspect that we will see a reduction in pensions tax relief. I don’t think it will be removed altogether, but I think it will be restricted, particularly for higher earners. There is also a good chance of the annual allowance being reduced again.
It is unclear whether anyone will be brave enough to curtail the state pension further. I doubt that we will see any really significant changes, but I think we’ll hear further murmurings of an increase to the state pension age.
The possibility of merging income tax and national insurance remains on the agenda, but it is not yet clear what this would mean for salary sacrifice arrangements.
I think that the replacement of childcare vouchers later this year remains in the balance, with existing childcare voucher providers challenging how National Savings and Investments was appointed. Consequently, there is a good chance of the new regime being delayed beyond October, and even the idea of tax-free childcare being withdrawn entirely.
I do not think that we are likely to see a significant realignment of NHS services following the election. All parties talk about reform of one kind or another, but I do not think that we will see any changes that have a material impact on the services and benefits offered by employers.
Pressure to fill NHS provision gaps will continue for large employers through private medical insurance arrangements, along with a continued focus on mental health.
Dave Roberts is head of pensions and benefits at Virgin Media