View more on these topics

Citizens Advice investigates rogue Pension Wise branch

Money-Cash-Coins-GBP-Pounds-UK-700x450.jpg

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.

Recommended

8

Pension Wise staff redeployed amid low take-up

Pension Wise guidance staff who do not have appointments booked are being redeployed, Money Marketing can reveal. The Treasury has given The Pensions Advisory Service clearance to use Pension Wise staff on its existing helpline. Likewise, Citizens Advice says Pension Wise staff, who are funded by a levy on financial services firms, can also work […]

3

Govt eyes Pension Wise revamp amid take-up concerns

The Government is considering revamping the information provided in retirement guidance sessions amid concerns over take-up of Pension Wise. Speaking during a Work and Pensions select committee hearing this morning, Treasury economic secretary Harriett Baldwin said Citizens Advice – which delivers face-to-face retirement guidance – had raised concerns about some of the information provided through […]

Baldwin-Harriett.Conservatives.Dec2013
1

Treasury offloads Pension Wise to DWP

Government-backed guidance service Pension Wise is to move from the Treasury to the Department for Work and Pensions. Economic secretary to the Treasury Harriett Baldwin told the DWP select committee today the DWP would be taking responsibility for the new service during this financial year. She said: “We have decided to make a machinery of […]

20

Is Pension Wise about to come crashing down?

Pension Wise could be at risk of unravelling as calls for the service to expand come in the same breath as consumer groups criticise its existing guidance sessions. Just five months since its launch, the Government’s flagship protection for consumers following the pension freedoms is coming under pressure to radically expand in scope and scale. […]

Tax year-end planning with the family

From the Technical team at Prudential Let’s face it, many aspects of financial planning involve a lot of technical detail. At our face-to-face events, we’ve had great success bringing these technical topics to life through the use of practical case studies. Meet the family Prudential’s Planning Matters hub brings together a fictional family and explores […]

Newsletter

News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up

Comments

There are 12 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. I think I’d prefer that these employees were actually doing something worthwhile, rather than just sitting around twiddling their thumbs, even if it’s not what we’re paying for. It doesn’t sound like re-assigning them to other duties has affected the delivery of guidance, it’s just prevented their wages being entirely wasted.

  2. I wonder what these employees, that we are paying for, are actually being paid for twiddling their thumbs?

  3. The CAB has for years been complaining about a creeping starvation of funding because more and more of what it used to do has been taken over by the privately funded MAS. And look what a white elephant that’s been (definition: a possession that is useless or troublesome, especially one that is expensive to maintain or difficult to dispose of ~ bang on, eh?) Perhaps Pension Wise is gathering a similar reputation.

  4. Easy solution…Let the government/taxpayer fund the cost of the service in full and then they can do what they like with the staff!

  5. So the Government takes industry fines to prop up the finances at our expense, the CAB subsidises non Pension Wise staff costs, we deserve to know the facts and figures so that we can inform our clients as to where their hard earned cash is going and why our fees look expensive.

  6. This is NOT an ‘isolated’ rogue pension wise delivery centre, its happening at offices all over the country!

  7. This has strangely not reached BBC News yet.

  8. Andy Robertson-Fox 10th October 2015 at 9:22 am

    I havn’t seen any figures to show how many staff and much money is ınvolved in this isolated case but I do wonder who would be the first to be moaning at the government or CAB if the staffing level was insufficient to meet the demand. What account, for example, has been taken in covering the additional costs in replacıng the loss of staff, who may be needed if demand subsequently increases? Is it not better to engage staff in other valuable work yet still meeting the demands of Pensıon Wıse clients as required than have them sit around part of the day playing computer games? Strikes me this is more a political grouse rather than practical.

  9. as Steve D says let the public purse pay for this service not the advisers. CAB do great work and if it were not my money paying for it I would see it as sensible to divert staff to other important work

  10. Andy is missing the point, Pension Wise is not an industry initiative, it is needed to facilitate the objectives of the Chancellor in terms of raising more tax revenue. For some reason advisers who have nothing to gain by it are being asked to contribute, so surely we have the right to ask how the money is spent.

    I think we are intelligent enough not to turn this into a political attack, we would ask a Labour Government the same questions.

  11. Andy Robertson-Fox 11th October 2015 at 11:32 am

    No, Andy is not missing the point and I think you have defeated your own argument to some extent when you say “Pension Wise….is needed to facilitate the objectives of the Chancellor in terms of raising more tax revenue”. Pension Wise is to give guıdance and advice to those who may wish to take advantage of the Pension Freedom but it has tax implications for the partaker. But as no one has given an indication of how many staff or the cost involved in an ısolated case ıt seems, without substantive informatıon rather a storm in a teacup.

  12. Andy, you thankfully are one of the voices of reason on here. PW interviews highlight the tax implications and in many cases will prevent Mr Osborne receiving a tax bonus from ill-informed pension holders who otherwise may have, for example, fully encashed their pension(s). Why cannot the adviser population as a whole stop griping about the Pension Wise service which sees and helps, in a large number of cases, those very “clients” who wouldn’t be given houseroom by “advisers”? Oh and let me pre-empt the predictable replies “we pay for it” “our clients pay for it”. Look at the actual FCA fee you pay for Pension Wise and think, “do I really want to complain about such a paltry amount?” Oh and for those of you who have punishing FSCS levies, my genuine sympathies but again a Pension Wise appointment will hopefully prevent a scam victim which if actually happened would add to your bills, iniquitous though that seems.

Leave a comment