Labour’s new shadow pensions minister Nick Thomas-Symonds has called on the Government to do more to promote awareness of both financial advice and the Pension Wise guidance service.
Speaking this morning at the Labour party conference in Brighton, Thomas-Symonds argued the Government must do more to boost public knowledge of the pension reforms, while also suggesting Pension Wise could offer a more substantial service.
He said: “The Government needs to do more on Pension Wise. At the moment it appears that there is one 40 minute consultation that is being offered and I don’t think that’s enough.
“Given that it’s introduced these freedoms, the Government needs to do more in terms of what Pension Wise provides but also to work on how well understood these changes are.
“Since being appointed, I have been surprised at the enormity of those changes and how little understood they are by some members of the public.”
Thomas-Symonds added that the same problem extends to the services offered by financial advisers.
He said: “What these changes do is expose part of the population to a financial advice and guidance system that they haven’t previously been exposed to.
“There is a danger of people seeing pensions as a luxury product, and people will come into contact with a financial adviser for the first time at retirement.
“I’m aware of the concerns that financial advisers have around their costs, and this can be funded from a range of sources, but for me the priority is that there has to be that awareness campaign.”
Thomas-Symonds also took the opportunity to lay out Labour’s broader stance on the pension freedoms. He said the party will be judging the reforms based on both their fairness and sustainability.
In addition, Thomas-Symonds said he is concerned that part-time workers are being excluded from automatic enrolment, and that complex charging structures may overwhelm those with little financial understanding.