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One in four seek advice after Pension Wise: CAB

One in four seek advice after Pension Wise: CAB

One in four people seeking guidance on their pensions are also asking for help on other issues such as help managing money, benefits and debt, new evidence from Citizens Advice reveals.

Figures from the national charity show 27.3 per cent of people who have had a face to face Pension Wise appointment in England and Wales also booked a Citizens Advice appointment for help on other issues.

Of those people who booked a separate Citizens Advice appointment, the most common reasons for seeking further help was benefits and tax credits (42 per cent), financial capability including help managing money (29 per cent), debt (14 per cent) and employment (4 per cent).

Citizens Advice delivers face to face Pension Wise guidance sessions in England and Wales.

The charity will today (7 September) give evidence to the Work and Pensions select committee inquiry into pension freedom guidance.

In its written submission, Citizens Advice stated that access to free guidance on pensions has been crucial in helping people take control of their finances.

It also identifies opportunities to provide additional support including reviewing the one free appointment policy.

Citizens Advice also highlights how Pension Wise sessions could be more tailored to an individual’s personal circumstances including offering answers on issues affecting pensions such as divorce and debt.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “People don’t make decisions about pensions in isolation. Our evidence shows people are also thinking about how their pension choices relate to tax, debt and how they wish to support their family.

“Guidance can be key to people making pension choices which are right for them. It’s vital that the support they receive recognises the competing pressures in their lives.

“We know people are getting what they need from a Pension Wise session but there is an opportunity to provide further support, whether that’s another appointment later in life or, for example, extra help around the implications for someone’s pension if they are divorced.”

CAB’s comments come after last week MPs were told advisers should man the Pension Wise service.

The Financial Services Consumer Panel (FSCP) criticised the government’s free guidance service Pension Wise and has stressed the need for consumers to be provided with independent advice and guidance.

In its submission to the Work and Pensions Select committee’s inquiry on pension freedom guidance and advice, the FSCP said restrictions placed on the Pensions Wise service had brought its effectiveness into question.

Concerns were raised over the low numbers of people using Pension Wise, suggesting more transparency was needed in this area to determine whether the service is leading to better outcomes for consumers.

The issues raised by the FSCP follow recent reports that only around a quarter of clients that contact pension providers have done so following consultation with Pension Wise.

emma.hughes@ft.com