A rogue Citizens Advice Bureau has funneled Treasury funds earmarked for Pension Wise into other services, Money Marketing can reveal.
Bill Land resigned in July after his team of guidance staff were redeployed to activities unrelated to Pension Wise.
Land, a former project manager at the Derbyshire Districts – one of the biggest Pension Wise delivery centres in the country – says the move was “unethical” and “unprofessional”.
The Government has repeatedly come under fire for the low take-up of the service. It is set to cost £35m this year, with advisers contributing £4.2m.
Citizens Advice says the quality of Pension and non-Pension Wise services provided by the Derbyshire Districts branch has not been impacted.
An employee rota from August, seen by Money Marketing, shows staff were assigned to non-Pension Wise activities.
These include taking general enquiries from the public and work related to other services including giving guidance on debt.
A Citizens Advice spokeswoman says: “We are reviewing the circumstances of these allegations but can confirm this is an isolated incident and Pension Wise staff at the delivery centre are now only working on delivering the guidance service.
“Thousands of people have had Pension Wise guidance from Citizens Advice since the service launched in April and are happy with the help they’ve received. Citizens Advice Pension Wise staff are specifically dedicated to working on the pensions guidance service and levy funding is being used to ensure people can get help to make sense of their pension options.”
She adds staff were only redeployed “when demand varied”.
The revelation comes in the same week Money Marketing revealed the Treasury has given The Pensions Advisory Service clearance to use Pension Wise staff on its existing helpline.
Citizens Advice says Pension Wise staff can also work on promoting the free service to the public and employers, as well as booking appointments.
The most recent FCA and Treasury figures show more than 200,000 people that accessed their pension in the first three months of the freedoms.
But only 20,000 received telephone or face-to-face guidance from Pension Wise.