Simoney Kyriakou  

Stephen Timms is right about pension scams

Simoney Kyriakou

Simoney Kyriakou

The Work and Pensions Committee chairman has some teeth.

Stephen Timms, MP for East Ham, has been vociferous in the past week in parliament, calling on the government to do more to protect people against pension scams. 

Just as the previous chairman, Frank Field, pulled no punches when it came to people’s life savings, so too his fellow Labour successor has shown he will continue to tackle the thornier side of pensions policy.

His most recent argument in favour of giving companies and pension trustees more power to say ‘no’ to suspicious transfers has been welcomed by pensions advisers.

Mr Timms has tabled an amendment to the pension schemes bill for the statutory right to transfer to be removed where a scam is suspected. At the moment, following a 2016 court case, scheme trustees are obliged to hand the money over – potentially even to crooks – if the saver insists on going ahead with the transfer. 

Time and again advisers have said ‘no’ to dubious transfer requests – and found themselves still at the mercy of regulatory machinations, having to justify why the client did not act in line with the advice.

Many advisers may have justifiably felt the defined benefit transfer hill is a lonely – and dangerous – hill to die on, regardless of the advice they have given with the clients’ best interests at heart.

With politicians of Mr Timms’ calibre now taking the same stance and calling for a change in policy, this surely proves the point that pensions law has not done enough in the first place to prevent scammers from getting access to people’s money.

Had the government got it right in 2015 when it brought in the pensions freedom and choice regime, we would not be in this situation now where pension money is being lured away. 

This is a chance for government to put things right. I hope MPs listen.