Clegg is three points behind the Labour candidate in Sheffield Hallam (Photo: Getty)
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Believe the hype: Nick Clegg could lose his seat

Speaking in Sutton before the 2010 general election, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, said to an audience of young voters: “The opportunity is immense this time. The cross you put on the ballot paper might be small, but the opportunity is big.”

Back then – during the height of “Cleggmania” – there was the opportunity to change politics for the better by voting for the Lib Dems. But today, it’s the chance to unseat the Deputy Prime Minister and rid parliament of one politician who has done more than any to disillusion young voters.

Make no mistake – Clegg’s home seat of Sheffield Hallam is most definitely in play. Clegg is three points behind Labour’s parliamentary candidate, Oliver Coppard, in the latest Ashcroft polling. And the long-running trend is decisively against the incumbent. Back in May 2014, ICM polling showed Labour up by ten points in Sheffield Hallam. On February 5 this year, Survation showed Clegg losing by the same margin. A Labour victory isn’t only likely; it’s probable.

That’s why this Saturday the Young Fabians, the youth wing of the Labour-affiliated Fabian Society, are helping to co-ordinate a national campaign day in Sheffield. We're travelling from far and wide to join friends from Labour Students and Labour members in the constituency in a united effort to #kickNickout of front-line politics once and for all. Around 70 activists are expected on the ground. Many of them are young people who feel betrayed by Clegg and let down by the promise of the Lib Dems.

And they are right to feel this way. On that sunny day in Sutton in 2010, Clegg railed against the fact that one in five young people between 18 and 24 were out of work. Five years on, young people are still three times more likely to be unemployed than the rest of the population.

In 2010, he promised to close “the grotesque loopholes at the top of the tax system”. Five years on, the tax gap (the difference between the amounts of tax that should be collected by HMRC against what is actually corrected) stands at 6.8 per cent – up £1 billion from April 2012.

In 2010, he said “never again” to the obscene bankers’ bonuses seen prior to the global financial crisis. Five years on, bankers’ bonuses have grown at double the rate of the average UK worker.

This is to say nothing of his complicity in passing the Tories’ bedroom tax, cutting funds to local government, scrapping the education maintenance allowance and, of course, tripling university tuition fees. 

Coppard has worked wonders in a seat that Labour hasn’t won once since its creation in 1885. He’s mobilised students from across Sheffield and across the country to take on their nemesis on his own turf. The campaign is punching above its weight financially and creating an irresistible buzz that is now drawing a broader range of young people – from secondary school pupils to young professionals – into the fight. Coppard’s policies are proving popular, particularly his petition calling for local estate agents to scrap letting fees, which echoes Labour’s national housing policy.

But Coppard will need all the troops he can muster to win on May 7th, and I, for one, intend to provide them.

Louie Woodall is a member of the Young Fabians Executive Committee. Follow the Young Fabians on Twitter for more information on our campaign days.

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Stability is essential to solve the pension problem

The new chancellor must ensure we have a period of stability for pension policymaking in order for everyone to acclimatise to a new era of personal responsibility in retirement, says 

There was a time when retirement seemed to take care of itself. It was normal to work, retire and then receive the state pension plus a company final salary pension, often a fairly generous figure, which also paid out to a spouse or partner on death.

That normality simply doesn’t exist for most people in 2016. There is much less certainty on what retirement looks like. The genesis of these experiences also starts much earlier. As final salary schemes fall out of favour, the UK is reaching a tipping point where savings in ‘defined contribution’ pension schemes become the most prevalent form of traditional retirement saving.

Saving for a ‘pension’ can mean a multitude of different things and the way your savings are organised can make a big difference to whether or not you are able to do what you planned in your later life – and also how your money is treated once you die.

George Osborne established a place for himself in the canon of personal savings policy through the introduction of ‘freedom and choice’ in pensions in 2015. This changed the rules dramatically, and gave pension income a level of public interest it had never seen before. Effectively the policymakers changed the rules, left the ring and took the ropes with them as we entered a new era of personal responsibility in retirement.

But what difference has that made? Have people changed their plans as a result, and what does 'normal' for retirement income look like now?

Old Mutual Wealth has just released. with YouGov, its third detailed survey of how people in the UK are planning their income needs in retirement. What is becoming clear is that 'normal' looks nothing like it did before. People have adjusted and are operating according to a new normal.

In the new normal, people are reliant on multiple sources of income in retirement, including actively using their home, as more people anticipate downsizing to provide some income. 24 per cent of future retirees have said they would consider releasing value from their home in one way or another.

In the new normal, working beyond your state pension age is no longer seen as drudgery. With increasing longevity, the appeal of keeping busy with work has grown. Almost one-third of future retirees are expecting work to provide some of their income in retirement, with just under half suggesting one of the reasons for doing so would be to maintain social interaction.

The new normal means less binary decision-making. Each choice an individual makes along the way becomes critical, and the answers themselves are less obvious. How do you best invest your savings? Where is the best place for a rainy day fund? How do you want to take income in the future and what happens to your assets when you die?

 An abundance of choices to provide answers to the above questions is good, but too much choice can paralyse decision-making. The new normal requires a plan earlier in life.

All the while, policymakers have continued to give people plenty of things to think about. In the past 12 months alone, the previous chancellor deliberated over whether – and how – to cut pension tax relief for higher earners. The ‘pensions-ISA’ system was mooted as the culmination of a project to hand savers complete control over their retirement savings, while also providing a welcome boost to Treasury coffers in the short term.

During her time as pensions minister, Baroness Altmann voiced her support for the current system of taxing pension income, rather than contributions, indicating a split between the DWP and HM Treasury on the matter. Baroness Altmann’s replacement at the DWP is Richard Harrington. It remains to be seen how much influence he will have and on what side of the camp he sits regarding taxing pensions.

Meanwhile, Philip Hammond has entered the Treasury while our new Prime Minister calls for greater unity. Following a tumultuous time for pensions, a change in tone towards greater unity and cross-department collaboration would be very welcome.

In order for everyone to acclimatise properly to the new normal, the new chancellor should commit to a return to a longer-term, strategic approach to pensions policymaking, enabling all parties, from regulators and providers to customers, to make decisions with confidence that the landscape will not continue to shift as fundamentally as it has in recent times.

Steven Levin is CEO of investment platforms at Old Mutual Wealth.

To view all of Old Mutual Wealth’s retirement reports, visit: products-and-investments/ pensions/pensions2015/