Govt comes clean on Pension Wise performance

Pension Wise jenga

Pension Wise guidance appointments are costing almost £500 each, Government data reveals.

The figure comes to light after policymakers bowed to pressure from politicians and the industry to boost transparency around the industry-funded guidance service.

The Government has faced criticism from across the sector for failing to produce data on Pension Wise, which is paid for via an industry levy. This was set at £39.1m in 2015/16, with advisers contributing £4.7m in the first year.

Earlier this year, the influential Work and Pensions committee called on the Government to produce quarterly statistics on the service.

In response, the Treasury has made more granular information on the performance of Pension Wise available via its ‘Performance Platform’. It will be updated monthly and can be accessed here.

The data reveals there have been just over 40,000 face-to-face and telephone appointments since the service was launched, costing an average of £496 each.

Customer satisfaction currently stands at 89 per cent, while there have been almost two million visits to the Pension Wise website since April.

In addition, the Government is procuring external research for Pension Wise to find out what users do following an appointment, and how much it improves their understanding. However, this will not be published until 2017.

The committee also recommended that information on how many people had accessed Pension Wise having been signposted by their existing provider should be tracked. The Government says it will publish this data from March 2016.

Elsewhere, the Treasury confirms that users of Pension Wise will be allowed to access more than one appointment as part of an expansion of the service. It does not say whether savers will be able to have an unlimited number of appointments.

The news comes after Citizens Advice, which is delivering the face-to-face element of pension guidance, came under fire for using Pension Wise staff for non-pension related work.

Data subsequently uncovered by Money Marketing revealed a disparity between the actions of those who take guidance through Citizens Advice and those who receive over-the-phone guidance from The Pensions Advisory Service.