Pensions  

Opperman promises pensioners easy guidance switch

Opperman promises pensioners easy guidance switch

Pension minister Guy Opperman has promised those approaching retirement will not be abandoned as the three bodies set up to provide them with free money guidance are merged into one.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has set up a programme to ensure a smooth transition as the three financial guidance services become a single body.

Pension Wise, The Pensions Advisory Service (Tpas) and The Money Advice Service (Mas), will transition to the currently named Single Financial Guidance Body, funded through existing levies on pension schemes and the financial services industry, in the autumn.

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Mr Opperman, minister for pensions and financial inclusion, said in a letter to MPs that “ensuring that people are able to access the services offered by the existing organisations during the transition period is of paramount importance”.

He said: “I want the transition from the existing services to the new body to be as smooth as possible, minimising disruption to customers and maintaining services.”

The Financial Guidance and Claims Bill, on which the new body will be based, is currently at the reporting stage at the House of Commons.

The new single body will offer guidance on pensions, debt and other money issues.

Mr Opperman said that the DWP established a programme for managing this transition process.

This is governed by a programme board which includes senior representatives from DWP, HM Treasury and the three existing providers, he added.

Once the chair and chief executive of the new body are appointed, they will also join the programme board and “play a key role in enring a successful handover,” he said.

Mr Opperman also argued that he wants to “build on the wealth of skills and experience that staff in the existing services currently have”.

He said: “As part of the transition plans, we therefore anticipate that most of the existing staff in Mas, Tpas and Pension Wise will transfer into the new body as part of a transfer scheme”.

The several guidance bodies are already making provisions for this transition. It is the case of Mas, which has allocated £500,000 towards its integration in the government’s new guidance body.

Regarding pension scams, Mr Opperman reiterated that the government will speed up the introduction of a cold calling ban, by putting forward its own amendment to the Bill.

maria.espadinha@ft.com