The number of retirees using the government’s free and impartial pension guidance service is continuing to fall, according to the latest government figures.
During the first six months of the pension freedoms, 383,571 investors accessed their pots, but just 28,320 booked an appointment with Pension Wise. In October 2015 the number of appointments peaked at 6,755 but had dropped to 3,205 by December.
At the same time, the cost of running the service is rising. The average cost per appointment rose to £516 in December, up more than 4% on the previous month, while the Treasury has estimated that the total cost of funding Pension Wise will hit £35 million in the current tax year.
What is Pension Wise?
Pension Wise is available to over-55s online, over the phone and face-to-face via Citizen’s Advice. It can’t offer tailored advice based on your own circumstances, but it can provide comprehensive details of the various options open to retirees and the pros and cons of each approach.
Those that have used Pension Wise appear to be happy with the service, with users giving it an average customer satisfaction score of 88.3%.
See ‘My Pension Wise experience’ to find out how Moneywise’s Hannah Nemeth found the service.
‘Policymakers need to improve the take-up’
Tom McPhail, head of retirement policy at Hargreaves Lansdown says: “The availability of impartial guidance is an important element of the pension freedoms. Pension Wise provides an excellent service and most people who do use it have a very positive experience. However, overall usage numbers are still pretty low. Policymakers need to improve the take-up or to make sure suitable alternative solutions are in place.”
Since April’s reforms there is no ‘normal’ way to approach retirement planning, see our What are the ‘pension pioneers’ doing with their savings news story for more on this.