Pension Wise appointments will not include information on the Government’s new flagship product the Lifetime Isa or automatic enrolment, Money Marketing can reveal.
A written question submitted to the Treasury by Conservative MP for Solihull and former financial journalist Julian Knight asked whether the guidance service would cover the two key areas.
But responding on behalf of the Government, parliamentary under-secretary of state for work and pensions Justin Tomlinson said: “The Government plans to restructure the delivery of public financial guidance to ensure that all consumers can access the help they need when they need it.
“Pension Wise does not give specific advice on products or provider recommendations. There are currently no plans for Pension Wise to provide guidance on lifetime ISAs or Automatic Enrolment.”
The decision comes despite calls – including from Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy, see p. 28 – for the service to be expanded beyond its narrow pensions remit.
Royal London head of corporate affairs Gareth Evans says: “The pensions minister is keen on guidance being available, including in earlier years, so it seems strange that a pension guidance service will not provide information in these areas.”
Plutus Wealth Management chartered financial planner Sebastian Hurst says: “This is a classic case of the Government putting something in place that is limited and has holes in it. The risk is people will go to Pension Wise and firstly think they are getting advice, and secondly that they will not get what they expect.
“The advice gap needs to be plugged and a lot of advisers will speak to people on a no obligation basis and that should be pushed more than anything else.”
The guidance service, which is funded by a levy on financial services firm including nearly £5m from advisers in 2015/17, has already been expanded to include over-50s.
March saw appointments hit a record high of around 7,000, but demand has been low since launch in April 2015. As a result, a third of guidance staff are to be cut. Last month the Department for Work and Pensions took over responsibility for running the service from the Treasury.