A former pensions minister has accused the government of ‘burying bad news’ as the Treasury made a statement to Parliament on pensions cold calling on the same day as the publication of the now-infamous Brexit White Paper and the arrival of the US president.
Moneywise reported at the end of June that the government was unlikely to meet its own deadline for putting legislation before Parliament for the banning of pensions-related cold calling. It was later confirmed that the legislative measures would be delayed until the autumn.
Now, however, a former pensions minister and director of policy at pensions firm Royal London Steve Webb is accusing the government of picking a busy day to bury the statement from the John Glen MP, economic secretary to the Treasury.
Mr Webb says: “The Treasury has chosen a good day to bury bad news. While everyone’s eyes were focused on the Brexit White Paper and the visit of President Trump, they decided to admit officially that the cold-calling ban will be further delayed.
“Nobody doubts that if this issue was a real priority for the government a ban would already be in place right now. The repeated delays mean yet more innocent people will be scammed out of their life savings by crooks who ring them up out of the blue with persuasive offers and pressure sales techniques. It is understandable that the government is embarrassed by this delay, but now it needs to pull out all the stops to get this legislation through and in force”.
When will the ban come in?
In his statement, Mr Glen set out the government’s position: “Pensions cold calling is an important and complex issue. Pensions scams can have devastating consequences and cold calling is the most common method used to initiate pensions scams, so the government has taken the time to ensure the ban works for consumers.
“The government will imminently publish a consultation seeking views on a set of draft regulations to ban pensions cold calling. Once we have considered all responses to the consultation, in the autumn we intend to lay regulations under the affirmative procedure and subject to Parliamentary approval bring the regulations into force as soon as possible thereafter.”
A ban on pensions cold calling has been mooted for some time now: the government first made signals it wished to implement a ban as far back as November 2016. Mr Webb says that this timeline makes implementation of a ban unlikely this year. 2019 is more likely to be the earliest in which a ban can be put in place officially.
'Millions of savers at risk of being targeted by fraudsters'
Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell, comments: “Every year thousands of people fall victim to investment scammers, with pensions – usually the most significant financial asset someone will have available to them – often the target. Indeed, recent figures suggest the problem could be getting worse rather than better, yet the government continues to prevaricate over introducing a ban on pensions cold-calling that was first announced in November 2016.
“While ministers delay, millions of hard-working savers are at greater risk of being targeted by financial fraudsters."
Moneywise has contacted The Treasury for a response and will update this article if we hear back.