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 the sessions, particularly around guaranteed annuity rates.

Under FCA rules, anyone with a safeguarded pension worth £30,000 or more must take advice before accessing their savings flexibly. This includes people wanting to transfer from personal pensions with valuable GARs attached.

She said: “The guidance delivered by telephone is admirable in its consistency. There’s been a goal of consistency, and the FCA and industry have observed how consistent and high quality this guidance has been.

“We’ve had feedback from CAB that one or two things in the generic script and follow-up letter could be more customised to particular circumstances, particularly around GARs.”

Treasury director of financial services Gwyneth Nurse said the Government is “looking to develop Pension Wise”.

She added: “Without pressuring the advice boundary, [we want to] do what we can to make it more personal to each individual.”

Baldwin also disputed that take-up of Pension Wise has been low. More than 200,000 people 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.

Baldwin said the Pension Wise website has had 1.5 million unique users since it was launched.

She said: “Of the people who have acted, how confident am I that those 200,000 have got at least guidance? I’d be confident it’s all of them. Since the campaign started again, we’ve seen a big increase in the number of hits [on the website].”