The long road to reach a pensions cold-calling ban

25 July 2018

Savers continue to wait for a ban on pension cold calling to take force as the government has yet again delayed implementation.

Pensions cold-calling timeline

A ban, which will take the form of an amendment to the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill, was first announced on 20 August 2017 by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

But on 12 July this year, the minister responsible for the amendment, John Glen MP, issued a statement to Parliament explaining that the ban was a “complex issue” and admitting that it would be autumn before legislation was laid before Parliament.

Back in August 2017, former pensions minister Baroness Ros Altmann welcomed the announcement, explaining: “Cold calling for mortgages was banned years ago, and the public needs the same protection for other financial matters. People can only be approached about a mortgage if they have expressly requested contact from the company by name. Doing the same for pensions would be a significant step forward in protecting the public.”

But since then, the government has failed to set a specific date or timeline for the ban.

By December 2017, the Work and Pensions Committee stepped in, urging the government to act to ban pension cold calling immediately. According to the committee, official figures “grossly underestimated” the scale of pensions scams and Frank Field MP, the chair of the committee, demanded the government act.

On 13 February this year, the government responded to the committee’s critical report but, again, failed to set a timeline for the ban.

Tom Selby, senior analyst at financial provider AJ Bell, commented at the time: “It has now been well over a year since the ban was originally announced and almost three years since the pension freedoms were launched. It is unacceptable that policymakers have taken so long to introduce such an important consumer protection measure, and implementation should now be fast-tracked.”

In March the government finally tabled an amendment to the bill which would introduce a ban. Crucially, the amendment stated:

“If the power is not exercised by June, the secretary of state must explain to Parliament why not.”

But this deadline was not met, forcing Mr Glen to issue a statement on the delay. Former pensions minister Steve Webb derided the issuing of this statement on the same day as the Brexit white paper and the controversial visit of US President Trump as a “good day to bury bad news”.

Mr Selby concludes: “While ministers delay, millions of hard-working savers are at greater risk of being targeted by financial fraudsters.”

A further technical consultation on a cold-calling ban has now been announced.

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