Consumer rights must not come second: Altmann

Consumer rights must not come second: Altmann

Pensions minister Baroness Altmann has used her House of Lords maiden speech to pledge that consumer rights will not be neglected in favour of the industry.

Baroness Altmann gave a wide-ranging and personal speech to defend the pension reforms introduced in April but also to warn that consumers must not lose out in the adoption of the flexibilities.

She said: “There are some who say the government knows best about what people should do with their private pensions. Well, I disagree.

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“I have long been an advocate of trusting people with their own money. The reforms are particularly helpful in that they use the tax system to incentivise people to keep money in their pensions into later life.”

However she addressed concerns that consumers looking to use some of the flexibilities had been hindered by charges, delays or exit fees, saying: “This is most disappointing.”

She added: “We must not allow consumer rights to play second fiddle to the interests of large finance firms.”

The minister also revealed that she had held conversations with the FCA about the difficulties faced by advisers and their customers with regard to the availability of affordable advice, and promised an independent review of the state pension age by 2017.

Baroness Altmann went on to warn that the implementation of auto-enrolment would face challenges as the process began to involve micro employers.