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MPs demand Govt expands Pension Wise

Pension Wise jenga

The Work and Pensions select committee has called for industry-funded guidance service Pension Wise to be expanded six months after the launch of the retirement freedoms.

In its first report in this Parliament, the committee calls for radical improvements to the Pension Wise service.

The service should consider savers’ property wealth, benefit entitlements tax implications, care costs and debts, the committee says.

The conclusion echoes a submission to the committee from Citizens Advice, which saw the charity – which provides face-to-face Pension Wise guidance – bemoan the tight constraints of the service.

In addition to a broader service, the MPs describe the Pension Wise website as “not fit for purpose”.

The report says: “It is static, offering no opportunities for personalisation, and lags well behind many private services.” The committee calls for the implementation of tools like an income calculator, illustrative examples, and printable summaries “as a matter of urgency”.

Similarly, a pensions dashboard is described as “long overdue”, with the Government urged to publish an implementation timetable in its response to the report.

The committee also repeats its condemnation for the Government, which it says is failing to provide statistics on the performance of the pension freedoms.

Committee chairman Frank Field wrote to pensions minister Ros Altmann to demand data ahead of the inquiry, and the MPs have now recommended the Government publish quarterly statistics on customer pot sizes, take-up of guidance and advice, any reasons given for not taking up either, subsequent decisions taken and the reasons given for those decisions.

At the same time, the committee describes the lack of data as “unacceptable” and says a lack of information on the performance of Pension Wise is blocking both effective scrutiny and future policy decisions.

The committee says: “It would be fortunate in the extreme if such radical change operated as hoped without any need for adjustment. Regular collection and reporting of the take-up of guidance and advice options on offer, and the decisions taken is imperative.”

Finally, the committee slams opacity in the way the advice market is regulated, and in particular what the FCA deems to be guidance or advice, which it says “is a mystery to consumers and providers alike”.

But it has steered away from backing calls for a “safe harbour”, saying it had yet to be persuaded of the case for relaxing regulation.

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Comments

There are 9 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. So easy to demand that other people’s money be spent, isn’t it?

  2. Hang on…I’ll just get my cheque book – How much is it that you want now?

  3. ” industry funded” assumes that there is an industry left to pay for it. Some commentators would say that this is an insurance against more claims being dropped on the compensation scheme, thus increasing our bills, which is fair comment, but our clients end up paying for those who get a free service.

    Political decisions require political solutions, if they have to increase taxes to pay for everything, then be open about it instead of applying all these stealth taxes and pretending we are all better off.

  4. Is this just another example of MPs trying to demonstrate their stupidity and ignorance?

    According to Frank Field, who after all is the head banana of the Work & Pensions Committee, only one in ten use the service anyway – so this looks like spending money (for which we pay without option) for a service that isn’t required.

    Is this part of a script they pinched from ‘Yes Minister’?

  5. So another government cock up then! How many more of these have we, as an industry, got to fund??

  6. Duplication,duplication, duplication!!!!! More free help from another government department marketed as free to those that cant pay or dont want to pay, all paid for by us voiceless lemons!

    Surely who ever comes up with these suggestions can not be aware of the existing advice chanels or the government installed inept regulator who has caused the problem.

    Its the nanny state gone daft.

  7. And I would like a larger armed forces, but government doesn’t want to pay for that either!

  8. Interesting to see that the MPs have slammed the opacity of it all as it very clear that the majority of them have no idea what they are talking about.

    Quite frankly I find the idea of a well paid MP sitting on a committee demanding that others should pay to expand a service which the gov’t should be paying for in the first place sickening. The fact that they clearly cannot see that they are forcing those who are already paying for advice to pay for the rest of the population is remarkable. This of course in an era when the FCA has clearly stated there should be no cross subsidy!

    I am sorry but if this is the standard of debate within the Work & Pensions Committee then it is not just poor, it is a disgrace.

  9. Sounds like a taxpayer funded IFA service.

    Not convinced that bringing the advice sector into the state sector is a smart move.

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