MPs slam ‘miserable’ Govt response to pensions report

Frank Field MP

Work and Pensions select committee chair Frank Field has condemned the Government’s response to its report on automatic enrolment.

In March the committee, then chaired by Dame Anne Begg, issued a raft of recommendations following a review of auto-enrolment and the broader pension reforms.

Begg’s committee called for an increase in the age at which people can access their pot under the new freedoms and the creation of an independent commission to review progress and advise the Government on necessary changes to auto-enrolment.

In addition, the committee wants a single regulator to be established covering both contract and trust-based schemes. Currently regulation of pensions is split between the FCA and The Pensions Regulator.

Responding to the report, pensions minister Ros Altmann says while the Government acknowledges the case for a single regulator and an independent commission, it remain preferable to focus on the roll-out of auto-enrolment and the pension freedoms.

Altmann says: “The Government is committed to ensuring that individuals have the freedom and choice to access their pension savings in a way that suits them best.

“We understand that some pension providers are still in the process of designing new drawdown products, and we will actively monitor the market as it develops, and hope that a strong and competitive market will emerge.”

However, Field has condemned the Government’s response.

He says: “The Government has had over two months since the election to pull together a full response, and has failed miserably to do so.

“It seems similarly reluctant to come forward with information on the effectiveness, or otherwise, of the advice given by Pension Wise to people trying to get their heads round the new pension drawdown freedoms. Might it now cooperate more fully with the Committee as we seek ways of improving the effectiveness of pension guidance and advice?”

Chancellor George Osborne last week said over 90 per cent of people who had used Pension Wise had expressed satisfaction with the service.

However, the Government has failed to provide more detailed information on the service, and has twice rejected Freedom of Information requests from Money Marketing seeking details on how the service is performing.