Pension wise promotion hit by election rules

2 April 2015

Election rules mean the government has stopped actively advertising and promoting its Pension wise guidance service on television just four days before Pensions Freedom Day.

Despite research showing that almost half of people facing crucial retirement decisions are unaware of its new guidance offering, the government is no longer able to promote the service on broadcast media due to the rules around purdah.

The purdah period typically lasts for six weeks before a general election and is put in place to stop both central and local government from making any announcements that could benefit them ahead of voting.

This means the Treasury has scaled back all of its Pension wise promotions, leaving only limited print and online advertising - despite the guidance being seen as crucial in helping retirees understand their retirement income options.

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Pensions Freedom Day

Pensions Freedom Day is the name being given to the raft of new rules that are coming in on 6 April 2015. From that day, retirees will have complete control over what they do with their pensions: take it all as cash, buy an annuity or invest it in the stock market or even property. It is a huge decision and many retirees will need guidance on their options or qualified financial advice to ensure their pension can generate an income for life.

But Moneywise has learned the purdah period means the government has scrapped its TV advertising and only has limited promotions across newspapers and online to publicise the guidance service in the run-up to 6 April and in the immediate weeks beyond.

A spokesperson described it as "awareness raising, rather than advertising".

A recent MGM Advantage poll indicates that 47% of people aged over 55 are not aware of the Pension wise service, while only 12% of respondents were fully aware of the new service and 41% said that, although they were aware of the service, they did not know the details.

The Pension wise service is also expected to remind consumers that there are an increasing number of rogue companies operating pensions scams. In mid-March, the Pensions Regulator relaunched its campaign to educate consumers about the scammers. Featuring a scorpion and the slogan 'don't get stung', the Pensions Regulator hopes to alert retirement savers to the presence of people seeking to exploit their interest in the change in law, for example by enticing them to move their cash into bogus, unregulated investments or other forms of scams.

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