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Govt refuses to disclose pension guidance take-up estimate

The Government has come under attack for refusing to disclose how many people it expects will use its guidance service Pension Wise.

This week a Freedom of Information request submitted by Money Marketing asking for the Government’s predictions on the new service’s workload was rejected.

Advisers are set to pay £4.2m towards the £35m the Government estimates will be needed to run Pension Wise in its first year.

The Treasury refused to share the information, which it confirmed it holds, because the public interest in witholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

It says the benefits of disclosure are outweighed by “the risk that public exposure when preparing and finalising policy advice would make civil servants less likely to provide full and frank advice or opinions on policy proposals”.

Shadow Treasury financial secretary Cathy Jamieson says: “The Government’s refusal to publish their estimate of how many people will use the new pension guidance service is deeply troubling, but entirely in keeping with their haphazard approach to these reforms.

“The Government has already told us that there will only be “around 300” face-to-face and telephone guidance specialists. With such limited resources the delivery partners will need all the help they can get, especially in the first few months, and it seems obvious that an authoritative estimate of how many people are likely to require guidance would aid their preparations.

”The Government’s claim that by refusing to provide this information they are serving the public interest is simply not credible.”

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Comments

There are 8 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Isn’t it obvious? The government doesn’t have a clue how many people are likely to take up PG.

  2. Julian I think you are incorrect. They do know the answer.

    Its less than 2% so they don’t want to publish the answer as it would look ridiculous.

  3. This is worrying, particularly as the only credible guidance that can be given by an unauthorised person is to “Take professional, authorised advice”.
    With many consumers having multiple pension plans, accumulated over many years, it is very likely that some will have guarantees built in, and I hope that the “Authorised Adviser” panel being prepared by the “guidance agencies” all carry the necessary FCA permissions.

  4. We have clients (ongoing service) and customers (transactional). If a client approaches us (which they will not as weer will already be in diary for a review meeting) then we will advise them in the normal course of events.
    If a customer or potential client/customer approahces us for at retirement advice, then we already quote a fee for the initial research at the end of our initial meeting to identify what it is they want advice on and if we want to work together.

    That fee will vary from firm to firm. Ours is quite modest BUT…. our first suggestion will probably need to be quite often that they should make use of the guidance service and only THEN come back to us knowing what our minimum fee will be. The dilemma is what that minimum fee should be as the F-pack have still not resolved the issue of lack of a longstop, despite removing it nearly 15 years ago without any real explanation behind their logic.

    We are now trying to articulate why a longstop is needed for the consumer and in part it is needed in order for advice to be delivered to the Pensionwise target audience.

  5. It may be as low as 2% (as one or two polls have suggested), but a major media initiative (at our expense, of course) leading up to Plunder Day could raise this pitiful percentage significantly. If take-up does turn out to be just 2% or hardly better, it’ll be a big embarrassment for the government and a lot of people will be waiting anxiously for the call to collect their P45.

  6. How can any estimate be in any way accurate prior to a launch of a service that has not existed to date. Will it be 2% or 50%? I don’t know, neither does the treasury and neither does Money Marketing nor Cathy Jaimeson.
    However Ms Jaimeson has managed some trash talk, managing to please her whips by calling the coalition plans as ‘haphazard’.
    Did the Labour Party propose such universally praised freedoms when in power? No, they managed to rape pensions, making Final Salary plans things of the past, forcing pensions to purchase Gilts and generally not caring about the savings gap. the socialists wanted as much money as they could in the coffers so they could create a population so dependent on state benefits that voting for any other party would make them poorer.
    Let’s wait and see. The service will need to uphold professional standards as well as a more generalist overview, be easy to access and work in harmony with most other interested parties.
    Let us pray!

  7. Pro V#1 – you make a good point…But re the will it be 2%. I think this is a bit more than a random figure.

    2 companies (1 being L & G and I cant remember the other ) trialed a similar free service for their policies coming up to retirement and that was the take up. Less than 2%

    but yes until it is rolled out we wont know for sure

  8. It is less than 6 weeks until “Pension wise” goes live and even now there is no phone number available to contact them. Unless this changes very soon there is only one answer to the headline….there can be no take up!

    They have absolutely no idea….

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