Government struggles to meet deadline for pension cold calling ban

26 June 2018
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Vulnerable people may be let down by the government as it struggles to meet its own deadline for introducing legislation, which would ban pensions cold calling.

Moneywise reported in March this year that the government had set a date for legislation introducing a pensions cold calling ban by adding a ‘notice of amendment’ to the Financial Claims and Guidance Bill.

The amendment states: “This new clause inserts a new power for the secretary of state to make regulations (subject to the affirmative procedure) banning unsolicited direct marketing relating to pensions. If the power is not exercised by June, the secretary of state must explain to Parliament why not.”

However, it now appears the government may miss this deadline – with just four working days left to update the Bill.  

Liberal Democrat spokesman for work and pensions, Stephen Lloyd MP, has written to the secretary of state for work and pensions, Esther McVey, pressing for the deadline to be met. According to Mr Lloyd, the secretary of state has “failed to find sufficient parliamentary time to formally make the bill law”.

In response, the Treasury says it is still hopeful it will meet the end of June deadline, although it has otherwise declined to comment. It is now more than a year and a half since the government first mooted the idea of banning pension cold calls.

‘The government is hopelessly distracted by Brexit’

Mr Lloyd adds: “Introducing a cold calling ban for pensions is something for which there was broad political support and a lot of work has been done in parliament to get it this far.

“The government is rudderless and hopelessly distracted by Brexit but this is an issue of vital importance for many, potentially vulnerable people, so I am urging the government get its act together quickly to meet the deadline for introducing the cold calling ban.”

The potential failure to meet this deadline has also drawn strong criticism from the financial services industry. Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell, comments: “The government needs to get its act together and ban pensions cold calling now. It is well over 18 months since the Treasury announced with some fanfare its decision to introduce the measure as part of an important package of reforms designed to protect savers. The progress since then has been depressingly slow.

“While Brexit is clearly draining time and resource from Parliament, this measure is a vital part of the fightback against the scourge of pension fraud. Indeed, I had hoped by now we would be debating further potential interventions, rather than kicking the government to implement something which should have been in place long ago.

“Hopefully this delay is simply due to a lack of time rather than anything more sinister and an effective ban will be in place shortly.”

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