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Legal & General boss welcomes Osborne's pensions reform

Legal & General chief executive Nigel Wilson has told ITV News he welcomed the Chancellor's proposals to free up pensions as "the right thing to do", despite the firm's shares plummeting 8% following the Budget announcement.

Speaking to Business Editor Joel Hills, he said the annuity provider would give George Osborne "four out of five" stars after the Chancellor told MPs all tax restrictions on pensioners' access to their pension pots will be removed.

Asked if he was furious with the Chancellor, he said, "Not at all ... it was something we had been anticipating [but] it is probably two to three years earlier than we had anticipated."

Dr Wilson said it was "the right thing to do for the broader economy":

We're clearly going to have some transition in this industry, we are a leading player in that industry.

It took everyone by surprise, including myself, but it's broadly the right thing to do.

These are the current rules on private pensions. Credit: ITV News
The situation following the Chancellor's Budget announcement. Credit: ITV News

The Legal and General boss said although some people will spend the money they draw down from their pensions rather than save it "that is their choice".

"Most people can be trusted to buy a house, to buy a car, they can be trusted to buy a pension 'if' they are given the right advice," he stressed.

"I think the point the Chancellor made is we need a very robust and well-informed advice system here in the UK".

Dr Wilson also highlighted that the rich in society "have always had access to this product" and that the pensions reform was simply "giving access to a wider group of people".

However he, disagreed that pensions providers have treated people less than well when it came to annuities.

"I think the industry has done a good job for its customers for a very long period of time and annuities have been a good product," Dr Wilson added.

One of the world's largest independent financial consultancies, deVere Group, criticised the decision to lift pensions access restrictions.

Investment strategic Tom Elliot told ITV News: "This is essentially making your pension into a bank account, with substantial help from taxpayer contributions along the way and then you're being asked to spend it as you like.

"I don't call that necessary empowerment - I call that giving people the freedom to spend all their money".

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