Pension advice on digital television is in view after the Department of Work and Pensions approached companies to produce interactive programmes.
Interactive digital TV screens could allow viewers to get advice about pensions in a similar fashion to decision trees. The project is a joint venture between the DWP and the Inland Revenue. Pensions will be the first area to be covered. The DWP is inviting tenders and a decision is expected within weeks.
The Department of Health has piloted an interactive TV service offering basic health advice along the lines of NHS Direct, the controversial phone advice service which has been criticised for being staffed by nurses rather than doctors.
A DWP spokeswoman says: “The idea is to give people advice and bring this into their homes. It is at an experimental stage.”
Torquil Clark pensions development manager Tom McPhail says: “I am encouraged that the Government is looking for solutions but they are looking for them in the wrong place. The Government already has an army of willing, able and highly regulated people in financial services who can offer advice. Individual circumstances are too complex to be accommodated by interactive television. People still like to be told what to do in person.”