Pension Wise staff redeployed amid low take-up

Pension Wise jenga

Pension Wise guidance staff who do not have appointments booked are being redeployed, Money Marketing can reveal.

The Treasury has given The Pensions Advisory Service clearance to use Pension Wise staff on its existing helpline.

Likewise, Citizens Advice says Pension Wise staff, who are funded by a levy on financial services firms, can also work on promoting the free service to the public and employers, as well as booking appointments.

The Government has repeatedly come under fire for the low take-up of the service. It is set to cost £35m this year, with advisers contributing £4.2m.

But of the more than 200,000 people that accessed their pension in the first three months of the freedoms, only 20,000 received telephone or face-to-face guidance from Pension Wise.

TPAS chief executive Michelle Cracknell says: “The Treasury-funded staff do Pension Wise as their number one priority, but where they don’t have Pension Wise appointments and are underutilised, the Treasury has given us permission to use them on our core helpline.

“The reason they’ve done that is the core helpline is so busy because of freedom and choice, so it’s a legitimate use of funding.”

A Citizens Advice spokeswoman says: “Citizens Advice Pension Wise staff are specifically dedicated to working on the pensions guidance service.

“As well as delivering guidance sessions, staff have a key role in highlighting to their local communities how the Pension Wise service can help people understand their pension options and in supporting the delivery of the service.

“This can include promoting the service to the public and local businesses, attending events and booking appointments.”