Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy says Ros Altmann’s comments over how providers are failing to signpost to Pension Wise were not helpful.
Pension Wise has suffered from low take-up since it launched in April 2015, prompting the pensions minister to blame providers for failing to direct customers to it.
But Guy – whose organisation delivers the face-to-face appointments – says she has not seen providers directing customers away from the service.
She says: “I’m not sure it’s a helpful comment. I don’t have evidence of that so I haven’t made that claim. It was difficult to get the thing off the ground, we all had our roles and we really wanted to help people in an uncertain situation while not treading on each other’s toes.”
Pension Wise received a £20m start-up loan from the Treasury and is expected to cost an additional £39m in 2015/16, with advisers contributing £4.7m of the industry levy.
Appointment numbers have been low, however, meaning the cost per appointment has risen to around £550.
However, Guy says this cannot be compared to the cost of advice. “The cost is calculated not just on the basis of time spent and resource input to a particular intervention but actually to the whole cost of the service which is then run out against appointments. That loads the number considerably.”