The House of Lords has agreed to enlist the Government’s new combined guidance body in the fight to stop cold-calling.
In a debate yesterday, the Lords tabled two amendments to the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill – the legislation that is to create a new single entity out of Pension Wise, The Pensions Advisory Service and The Money Advice Service – designed to tackle what was described as the “omnipresent menace” of cold-calling.
The first was to make the new body’s consumer protection function more explicit. The second orders the new guidance body to make an annual assessment of the impact of cold-calling on consumer detriment. It must also advice the Secretary of State if it sees any areas where a ban on cold-calling would be beneficial.
Both amendments passed, and did a further amendment forcing the guidance body to pass casework on to the FCA when it sees consumers being approached inappropriately over pensions or debt advice.
Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Sharkey says: “It widens [the guidance body’s] remit to something closer to the real-world situation for consumers and enables it to deal more comprehensively with the dangers and risks that consumers face.
“Pensions guidance, debt advice and money guidance are all aimed at doing this, of course, but there are related areas where intervention would be of direct benefit: cold-calling is one.
“We have discussed cold calling many times during the passage of the Bill and on many other occasions in this House. On several occasions I have described it as an omnipresent menace—and no one has disagreed…It is not only a thoroughgoing social nuisance; it is often a threat, directly and comprehensively, to consumers’ financial well-being. It is often an invitation—or more exactly, an inducement —to criminal activity.”