Time for positive talking

Now is the time to call on politicians to improve benefit incentives for employers

Don’t let this crisis go to waste’ may be the title of a paper on pensions tax relief. But it could also prove a useful motto for all those lobbying for a greater role for the corporate benefits sector.

Politics and the economy have dominated the news for several months now. But things are really going to come to a head when the Coalition unveils its package of austerity measures in the comprehensive spending review later this month.

While we will have to wait for the details, what is clear is that there is to be a significant rolling back of the State. Whether this is out of financial necessity or using fear of the bond markets to drive Conservative ideals is open to debate. Whichever view you subscribe to, the fact remains that the Government will be spending less on services, and expecting the private sector to pick up the slack.

This should be a golden opportunity for the benefits community to push their case for more incentives to encourage good employers to take their part in society, Big or otherwise.

Whichever view you subscribe to, the fact remains that the Government will be spending less on services, and expecting the private sector to pick up the slack

The pensions industry has kept momentum up in its lobbying of government, even at a time when massive changes were already in the pipeline, and some progress looks like being made.

For the healthcare sector, things are more complex. The sacred cow status of the NHS makes arguing for tax breaks hard. But at least if taxes on employers are to go up, it is not unreasonable to argue they should go up less for those employers who do right by their staff in terms of healthcare, saving the Treasury a tidy sum into the bargain.

For long term disability benefits, the argument in favour of incentives is less delicate and could not be more straightforward.

Good work is already being done by industry bodies in all these areas, but we all need to talk more positively about the services our industry give to UK voters. There will never be a better time to push the case for making it easier to encourage employers to take some of the strain off the State.

John Greenwood, Editor john.greenwood@centaur.co.uk